Monday, October 30, 2006

How to Choose a Therapist…

  • First of all check the therapist’s education, credentials, knowledge and experience in dealing with your problem.

  • What is the therapist’s reputation in the community or is the clinic reputable? How long has the counselor been in practice?

  • Was the therapist referred by a physician office, other professional or prior client? This adds credibility to the therapist’s work. If any of your friends or family have ever consulted a therapist, ask them what their experiences were like. Did they like their therapist and was the treatment helpful?

  • Ensure that your therapist’s moral values are similar to yours. A therapist’s role is to guide you in the choices that you make. If your therapist’s views are too different, the advice that they offer may not make a lot of sense to you. Therapy, however, is an adversarial process and you shouldn’t start looking for a new therapist just because your current therapist challenges your views and attitudes. That’s part of their job. What is important is the outcomes of the sessions. If the therapist is successful in making you think about the choices you make and their outcomes, then you have probably found a therapist that will satisfy your needs.

  • After the first session did you feel a connection? Did the therapist listen, understand and respect you?

  • Did you feel liked and valued as a person?

  • Did you feel comfortable and was the therapist easy to talk to.

  • Does the therapist’s approach make sense to you? Psychiatrist, psychologist and therapist can all offer you counseling and advice. However, only medical doctors and psychiatrists can prescribe drugs.

  • Do you feel that the therapist is genuinely interested in you and your personal story?

  • Does the therapist remember important details from session to session?

  • Does the therapist inspire you to accept life challenges and help you make positive changes towards growth and healing?


    Written by: Linda Riley, A Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Sex Counselor who has counseled family's and couples for over 22 years. Her focus has been with enriching relationships and understanding relationship dynamics.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Don’t Forget the Blessing! By Aaron Welch, LMHC

When we think about the phrase, “bless you”, what immediately comes to mind is that someone has probably sneezed and, for some reason, we believe that offering them this comment brings some relief to their allergies or head cold or whatever they’re suffering from. Come to think of it, I have no idea why this tradition was started. Perhaps it is designed to counteract any potential embarrassment they may feel by sneezing in front of us. I don’t know. I only know that, when we think of blessing, this comes to mind. Another situation that stirs in my brain when I think of a blessing is when we pray before eating a meal. “Don’t forget to say the blessing” is a sentence that I heard a lot while growing up. I always wondered if something horrible, perhaps even fatal, might happen to me if I forgot to pray before taking a bite into my bologna sandwich. Luckily, I am still intact in spite of forgetting to bless my food at times.
But the blessing that I want to encourage you to remember from this article is the same type of blessing we read about in the Old Testament, as fathers, mothers, and grandparents would offer a blessing to their children and grandchildren. The first one that comes to mind is the story of Jacob and Esau, in which Jacob and his mother tricked Isaac into giving his blessing to Jacob instead of Esau, who was the first born. Both boys greatly desired the blessing of their father; so much so that Jacob was willing to lie and deceive to acquire this important gift. There are numerous stories of blessings that are offered to children; both from the Lord and from earthly parents. These blessings were greatly valued by those children and receiving them gave the recipient a greater sense of their value and their hope for the future.
Isn’t this concept of blessing our children almost a lost art in today’s society? I cannot tell you how many men I have counseled whose biggest void in their life has been that they have never felt the approval of their parents; in particular, their fathers approval. A very high percentage of the men I work with have this common theme in their hearts; they never knew or felt fully accepted by their fathers. I believe this is becoming even more of a common denominator because of how many fatherless homes we have in our society now. I mean it. We are seeing an entire generation of boys who have never received any kind of guidance, approval, or love from their fathers. In fact, many of these boys don’t even know their fathers. Many of their fathers have nothing to do with the family and these young men are set adrift into the world, having little idea of what it means to be a man. Many of these men struggle with self-esteem for their entire lives because they never felt like they were valuable enough for their fathers to fool with. It is tragic, really, as I see muscular, intelligent, and successful men reduced to tears as they talk about the fact that they never could live up to their father’s expectations or that they never truly felt important to their dads. Sometimes, that void is never filled and so they go through life trying to fill this void with lots of women, vast supplies of wealth, success, or addictions to alcohol, work, or sex. Unfortunately, these treasures are “fools gold” and the void constantly must be filled or the ache in their hearts seems unbearable. The worst part is that this cycle tends to repeat itself when these men have children of their own. Right now, in our society, we are reaping the consequences of years of absent fathers. It fills my heart with sadness and with fear, as I consider what this horrible pattern could do in the long run if we don’t do something to break the chain.
I want to beseech all of the parents who read this to offer blessings to your children. Children desire, more than anything else, the love and approval of their parents. As parents, we have the power to lift up our children and give them the confidence to succeed. We also have the power to discourage them terribly and fill them with a sense that they will never amount to much of anything. That is an awesome power; and an awesome responsibility.

John Trent, author and counselor, identifies the five traits that were always present in Old Testament blessings. They are simple and consistent, but wield great power in the hearts of children:


1. Blessings require meaningful touch: Kids need to be touched in a healthy way. They need hugs, kisses, a pat on the back, or a squeeze of the shoulder. I am saddened that there are a small percentage of people who have abused the idea of touching children and, therefore, our society is fearful of touching kids. Listen..........children need to be touched because human touch (in a loving manner) invigorates the one touched. Start hugging your kids daily. Give them kisses (yes, men..........this means you too). Wrestle with them in a fun way. Squeeze their arm and give them a sincere compliment. Mess up their hair and tease them. Positive touch is an important part of the blessing.

2. Make sure your blessing is also verbal: People who say they knew their parents loved them even though they never heard the words are people who often have a void in their hearts. We must say we love our kids. We must verbally compliment them on their accomplishments. We need to tell them how proud we are of them. Speak your blessing.

3. Attach high value to your child: It’s okay to make your child feel important. I know that my parents were always afraid of saying to much for fear that I would “get the big head” or become arrogant. The truth is that a child is more likely to become arrogant if they are not encouraged. This arrogance is usually a front for their insecurities but it is still more likely to occur if a child never feels their parents’ approval. Treat your children as special, because they are. They are a valuable gift from the Lord.

4. Predict that they have a special future: This is so important! Pay attention to the talents, gifts, and strengths of your kids. Then, tell them that you notice. If your child is physically gifted, tell them that you believe God will use them in that way. If they are good with words, tell them you believe God will use them to influence people through speech or writing. If they are good in science, let them know that you believe they have a great future in that field. Build them up so they believe in themselves. More importantly, make sure they know that GOD has a special plan for their life.

5. Be a person of genuine commitment: Don’t forget about your children in the busyness of life. Keep their awards. Display their trophies. Save newspaper clippings about them. Be committed to them as they grow and let them know you are committed to them.

Ultimately, the blessings we offer (or don’t offer) our children make a huge difference in the lives of our kids. You, as parents; as dads, as moms, as grandparents, as coaches, as teachers, can impact kids in powerful ways. Look into your own hearts. Did you feel the blessing and approval of your parents? If not, how has that affected your goals, your attitude, and your success? If you did have that special gift, hasn’t it helped you throughout life? Parents......................dads, in particular.................I’m talking to you. You may not feel comfortable in doing some of these things but so what. It’s time to step up. It really is. Our kids desperately need us. YOUR kids desperately need YOU. Offer them a blessing often and just see what God does in their lives.

For more family resources visit:

http://www.family.org/
www.lifeworksgroup.org


About the Author: Aaron Welch is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at the LifeWorks Group, Inc. in Winter Park, Florida. He has devoted his life to reaching out and helping people grow and mature through difficult life situations. Whether it has been through clinical counseling, pastoral ministry, youth camps and conventions, public speaking, leadership training, educational instruction, athletic coaching or small group ministry, Aaron has over eighteen years of experience in assisting people through life struggles and personal growth. His genuine love for people and his outgoing personality combine to create a safe and caring environment for putting the pieces of life back together. To learn more about the LifeWorks Group, Inc. please visit, www.LifeWorksGroup.org.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Relationship Cancer: Understanding the psychological dynamics of domestic violence. By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor

Her cries for help in the middle of the night startled us awake and when we turned on the lights and let our neighbor inside, the red welts on her arms and face shocked us even more. “How could he do this to you?” My mother asked, and all she could sob out was “He didn’t mean to do it, please don’t call the police.”

That was my first exposure to domestic violence almost 35 years ago yet I can still vividly remember the look of terror in her eyes after being beat up by her husband, (who was so out of control that he had actually pulled out a weapon to use against her). She ran for her life, but an hour later as the police were handcuffing him for transport to the jail, she was begging them to leave him alone so she could take care of him. It was a long night for everyone, but the next day it was like nothing had ever happened, because it was never discussed again. Nothing ever changed at that house for years until a sudden divorce ended the marriage and they just went their separate ways.

It baffled my teenage mind back then that someone would treat the woman they had promised to love like a punching bag; yet now it breaks my heart even more to know how common it is for someone to be abused, yet often feel too afraid to call out for help; so the violence continues behind closed doors in every part of our community while the victims suffer alone in silence.

Every House a Safe House
Slowly think about the word “home” in your mind. Does it stir up feelings of peace, safety, belonging, comfort and love? Or does that seem like an impossible concept because life at your house is more about panic than peace?

Domestic violence shelters are often referred to as ‘safe houses’ because they are hidden away from the general public to allow the victims of abuse to be in a protected environment away from any violence or threat of abuse to heal. I’m glad there are safe houses to help wounded people rebuild their lives; however, I believe God’s design for the family was to see every house as a safe house where people could connect to each other heart to heart and soul to soul.

Sadly many people try to avoid thinking about how common domestic violence is because once their eyes are opened to the harsh reality of this abusive behavior they see the urgent need to do something to stop it. Here are some startling statistics to show you how big this problem really is. As you read through these very sad numbers I hope it will prepare you to take positive action to make sure your house is always the safest place for your family and to be better equipped to reach out and support the people you care about most.
Domestic violence can vary in frequency and severity. It occurs on a continuum, ranging from one hit that may or may not impact the victim to chronic, severe battering. Repeated abuse is also known as battering.
~American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a serious, preventable public health problem affecting more than 32 million Americans, that is more than 10% of the U.S. population which results in nearly 2 million injuries and 1,300 deaths nationwide every year. (Centers for Disease Control)
85% of domestic violence is directed toward women. (National Crime Victimization Survey)
31% of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. (Commonwealth Fund Survey of Women’s Health)
30% of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year. (Family Violence Prevention Fund)
On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data)
Eighty percent of women who are stalked by former husbands are physically assaulted by that partner and 30 percent are sexually assaulted by that partner. (Center for Policy Research; ‘Stalking in America’).

More than 1 million women and 371,000 men are stalked by intimate partners each year. (Tjaden & Thoennes, National Violence Against Women Survey, Department of Justice)
Previous literature suggests that women who have separated from their abusive partners often remain at risk of violence (Campbell et al. 2003; Fleury, Sullivan and Bybee 2000).
Between 4% and 8% of pregnant women are abused at least once during the pregnancy (Maternal and Child Health Journal). Pregnant and recently pregnant women are more likely to be victims of homicide than to die of any other cause and evidence exists that a significant proportion of all female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners. (Journal of the American Medical Association)

Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. (Journal of the American Medical Association)
Forty percent of girls age 14 to 17 reported knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend. (Children Now/Kaiser Permanente poll)
In a national survey of more than 6,000 American families, 50 percent of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children. (Physical Violence in American Families; Strauss, Gelles and Smith)
Studies suggest that between 3.3 -10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually. (Carlson, Bonnie E., ‘Children's observations of interpersonal violence.’ Report of the Twenty-Third Ross Roundtable. Ross Laboratories).

Domestic violence can and does happen to people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. Without help, abuse will continue and could worsen. Though there are no typical victims of domestic violence, abusive relationships do share similar characteristics. In all cases, the abuser aims to exert power and control over his partner. Many resources are available to help you understand your options and to support you. No one deserves to be abused. ~ Mayo Clinic

Relationship Cancer Kills
Did you sense the despair and hopelessness reflected in those statistics? I sure did and that’s why I really want you to understand what to do to find freedom from the silent and shameful secrets of abuse that ruins the home life of millions of people in our country. I view the abusive behavior of domestic violence as a form of deadly cancer in the relationship, and relationship cancer kills!

We plead with people to pay attention to the early warning signs and symptoms of cancer, which often can save their physical life. In the same way if we take positive action to deal directly with this manipulative and mean behavior we might save our relationship from being destroyed.

Think of it this way; a girl and guy meet, then fall in love, get engaged, and a few months later make promises to love each other forever during a wedding ceremony in front of God and their closest friends and family members. And then an astounding number, (almost one third), of these couples begin to slide into the process of moving from caring for each other to one person trying to control the other and calling it ‘love’ when in fact love had nothing to do with it.

Abuse is about power and control not about anger
This next section is to help you or someone you love to understand what to do to break out of the destructive cycle of domestic violence and abusive behavior. Many people want to believe that it’s just a little too much anger, or they try to excuse the behavior as being something cultural or generational because their family of origin is just ‘louder’ than other families. So how can you tell if it’s abuse? Here are some key indicators to consider as you begin to study this important subject that will allow you to protect yourself, your kids or to more effectively reach out to others you may know who are really struggling in this area.



Eight primary types of Domestic Violence and Spouse Abuse:



1) Physical- (scratching; pushing; shoving; kicking, spitting, throwing, grabbing; biting; choking; shaking; slapping; punching; burning, restraining, hitting walls, breaking or throwing things)
2) Sexual- (forcing a person to engage in a sexual act against their will through intimidation, restraint or physical violence. Includes being forced to watch or participate in perverse sexual behaviors)
3) Verbal- (using words to shock or attack by twisting conversations into power struggles that the abuser must ‘win’ at all costs to prove that they are ‘right’. Extreme use of moody silence, criticism, sarcasm, guilt trips, deception or continual questioning and harassment. Using street slang, cursing, put-downs, insults or shouting to beat down the other person through forceful language and threatening tones of voice to utterly destroy their self worth, dignity and self-respect through verbal intimidation and aggression)

4) Emotional- (playing ‘head games’, or otherwise attempting to make the other person feel ‘crazy’ or bad about themselves through blame shifting everything onto the victim; continual attacks against their self worth with feelings of guilt, or shame about themselves, their past mistakes or family secrets)

5) Financial- (taking away access to family income or taking paychecks away to limit the ability to function financially, includes stealing money or secretive spying on spending or driving patterns in an effort to manipulate every area of daily life that involves spending to ‘trap’ the victim into staying by eliminating any opportunity to travel to friends or family who might help)

6) Isolation- (continual attempts to prevent any access to healthy peers, parents, friends, neighbors or coworkers, often uses ‘jealously’ as the motivator, but the real motivation is to block out any other person who might support the victim in facing their fears to break out of the addictive cycle by seeking help to change. Common to see ‘tracking’ behavior through GPS on cell phones or mileage on the odometer of the car to insure complete obedience and compliance)

7) Bullying- (threatening or intimidating with harsh words, hateful gestures, or hostile aggression toward the victim or toward their children, friends or family in order to manipulate the situation to get what they want when they want it. They set the rules as to what everyone in the house must do in order to keep the bully happy at all times. Treats everyone and everything as a possession to do with as they want)

8) Terrorist- (open aggression, rage, hostility, assault, breaking things, open use of weapons, regular threats of serious injury or painful death to victim, children or pets if they don’t get their way. Stalking behavior fits in this aspect of domestic violence since the goal of the stalker is to create a feeling of intense fear, trauma and terror)


Toughest form of Relationship Cancer to fight
Now let’s consider one of the most common forms of abuse that creates a subtle relationship cancer inside of many marriage and family relationships, especially those who identify with the teachings of the Christian church and would classify religion and spiritual values to be highly important to them. The category is emotional abuse, and I suspect that many of the people who utilize this form of aggressive and manipulative behavior don’t completely realize how totally devastating their words and feelings are that go along with this highly destructive and toughest form of abuse to tackle because it’s so hard for the violator to realize just how mean and hateful this form of abusive behavior really can be.

The extensive checklist below shows one of the most tolerated parts and still least understood forms of domestic violence dumped out on millions of victims and then minimized or justified away by the abuser who often misquotes the scripture that a wife is to submit to her husband, like a slave to a master, which is nothing even close to what God’s Word teaches about the Christian home being a place of incredible love and intimacy, and never of critical hostility or cold-hearted insensitivity.

It was written by my friend June Hunt, a Christian Counselor who is an author and founder of Hope for the Heart, a non-profit educational organization offering comprehensive resources from a biblical perspective. Think about your relationship, or someone you know as you answer the following indicators of this quiet killer of marital closeness and connection.


Emotional Abuse Indicators and Warning Signs
While all forms of mistreatment are emotionally abusive, certain behaviors can be overtly labeled as “emotional abuse.” An emotionally abusive behavior will fit into one of two categories: passive or aggressive.

Passive emotional abuse is characterized by:
— Withholding emotional support
— Withholding important information
— Withholding money and access to the checkbook
— Not giving appropriate attention or compliments
— Not listening or responding
— Not taking a fair share of responsibility
— Not respecting your rights, opinions or feelings
— Sulking and brooding
— Using the “silent treatment”
— Choosing to be irritable
— Manipulating the children
— Neglecting important family gatherings
— Failing to return home at a reasonable time
— Refusing to help with children or housework
— Refusing help to overcome an addiction (drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling)
— Refusing to express true feelings
— Refusing to leave when asked
— Keeping weapons in order to frighten you

Aggressive emotional abuse is characterized by:
— Isolating you from family and friends
— Not allowing you to have any part in major decisions
— Rushing your decision-making through intimidation
— Intimidating looks or body language
— Blocking the doorway when arguing
— Hiding car keys as a means of control
— Breaking promises or not keeping agreements
— Making threatening gestures
— Driving recklessly to instill fear
— Excessive jealousy and suspicion
— Prohibiting sleep
— Damaging treasured items
— Excessive anger
— Continually checking up on you
— Interfering with your work
— Monitoring your phone calls
— Making unwanted calls or visits
__ Following or stalking you

If you found this check-list helpful, I encourage you to check out the full Biblical Counseling Key June Hunt wrote on this subject, called “Verbal & Emotional Abuse” It’s on a list with almost 100 other Biblical Counseling Keys and podcasts she has written and recorded at her homepage: Hopefortheheart.org


What next? Take bold action to break the cycle!
Domestic violence is wrong and any form of abusive behavior that goes along with it is equally wrong. If you have seen sign or symptoms in the indicators above, don’t panic, begin to face it and build a stronger and better life. However, let me be quick to say that if you are in a dangerous situation, please let the people around you help out.

There are hotlines, counselors, pastors, friends, extended family, police officers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, family law judges and most importantly, survivors. These people are the ones who were able to break out of the abusive cycle with new boundaries and supports and have regained their strength so they often will be your best source of encouragement to help you onto a new journey of healing and peace. But only if you let them by reaching out and asking for it.

Let me encourage you with these words- “You could be the next strong survivor beginning right now, if you have reached a point to say ‘enough!’ ‘This is it and I’m never going to allow some fearful things to block the best things that God wants for my life!’”

I believe that you read this far because you are ready for a change and look forward to hearing about how you, or perhaps you and some friends came together to make your house a safe one and your relationships the very best ones because of what you have learned! That is God’s desire for your relationships and when you open up your eyes to look beyond the fear of abuse- you can see the freedom of a better life. Isn’t that the message the angels sang on the night Christ was born, “Peace on earth- Goodwill to men!”

It is my prayer that you begin to live out that true message of Christmas right now as you begin living in the new light of freedom more than living in the shadows and darkness of your old fears. You are worth so much more than your fears have led you to believe and you don’t have to stay stuck in the relationship cancer of abuse for one more second because this is your time to come alive by making some bold decisions to move forward to a better place by God’s grace. This is your time to change. Know that you are not alone on that journey and that there are safe people to help.

If you or someone you know is frightened about something in your relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or logging onto www.NDVH.org

References for more in-depth study and analysis on Domestic Violence:

(American Bar Association) - http://www.abanet.org/tips/dvsafety.html

(American College of Emergency Physicians) -http://www.acep.org/webportal/PatientsConsumers/HealthSubjectsByTopic/Violence/FactSheetDomesticViolence.htm

(American Academy of Family Physicians) - http://familydoctor.org/052.xml

(Checklist for Leaving an Abuser)- http://womenshealth.gov/violence/checklist/

(Domestic Violence Hurts the Whole Family, Healthy Roads Media - Multi-language site) - http://www.healthyroadsmedia.org/topics/abuse.htm

(Domestic Violence Special Events- Family Violence Prevention Fund)- http://www.endabuse.org/newsflash/index.php3?Search=Article&NewsFlashID=794

(Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women)- http://www.usdoj.gov/ovw/

(Know Your Rights on Domestic Violence, from the American Bar Association - Links to PDF) - http://www.abanet.org/domviol/knowrights.pdfhttp://www.abanet.org/domviol/conozcaderechos.pdf

(Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/domestic-violence/WO00044

(National Center for Injury Prevention and Control)- http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/

NOTE: you can freely redistribute this helpful resource, electronically or in print, provided you leave the authors information intact in the box below.

About the Author: Dwight Bain is a Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. He is a professional member of the National Speakers Association who partners with major corporations and national organizations to make a positive difference in our culture for Jesus Christ. Dwight is the founder of the LifeWorks Group, a team of professionals committed to personal growth and development emotionally and spiritually through counseling, coaching and communications events. Access more extensive counseling and coaching resources from the LifeWorks Counseling team at 407.647.7005 or by accessing dozens of free special reports and resources designed to make your life work better for you at www.LifeWorksGroup.org

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Problem Solving Process by Dwight Bain, LMHC

State the Problem in a way that it can be solved.
· You are so messy. Not a solvable problem.
· You haven’t been getting your clothes into the hamper. This can be solved.

Brainstorm all possible solutions without evaluating them.
· Put a hamper in the bedroom and the bathroom.
· Pay someone else to pick up the clothes.
· Do your own laundry.
· Buy new clothes and throw away the used ones.
· Wear wrinkled/dirty clothes.
· Post reminder notes around the house about picking up the clothes.
· Etc.
· Etc.

Evaluate the possibilities.
· What will happen if I pick this option?
· How will this one work?
. Pick one, or a combination, to try out.

Re-evaluate.
· Many people omit this step.
· Schedule a time and date to re-evaluate how the solution is working.
· If it is not working, then go back to step two and start over again.

Terrible Two’s or Terrific Toddlers? by Aaron Welch, LMHC

I know.........everybody seems to claim that toddlers who hit the age of two suddenly become a close replica to Satan himself. You know, they are demanding, they throw temper tantrums, they grab everything they see, and they seem to have fallen in love with saying the word, “NO!”. Although some of these behaviors do happen during this stage of development, it doesn’t mean that these years have to become an unbearable nightmare that leads every parent into psychological therapy. Raising children of any age is challenging. Although children are a tremendous gift, they can also be a test of our patience. It’s just part of being a parent. If children were born with the innate ability to handle life, where would the fun be? Most parents love to hold their children and love on them as much as possible. Is there any greater word in the English language than “daddy” or “mommy”? Yet, just as parents enjoy the sweet dependence of their children, they must also endure the immature emotions of those same kids. A writer could easily write an entire book about how to effectively parent a two-year old child. Unfortunately, space does not allow for such depth. However, here are some important tips for parents who find themselves parenting a “terrible two”:

1. Consistency: Toddlers desperately need to know the boundaries of their household. They will certainly fight against these boundaries and do their very best to cross these boundaries but it is ESSENTIAL that a parent be consistent with the household rules. Many times, a toddler will test the boundaries simply to see if that parent can be trusted to keep them. I know this sounds so advanced and even devious but it’s not. It’s just a toddler’s way of seeing if mom and dad are worthy of their respect. Parents cannot give in to the tantrums, tears, and pleadings of their toddlers. If a parent sets a healthy boundary then they must keep it consistently. This will do wonders for the toddler’s feeling of security in the home and with his/her parents.

2. Stability: Structure is also something that can really help toddlers to be secure. Having a daily schedule cuts down on anxiety and insecurities that can invade the psyche of a toddler. Meal times, nap times, play times, tv time (limited), bath times, and bed times all allow the toddler to feel secure that they are being cared for every day. This doesn’t mean that a parent cannot deviate from this schedule occasionally. However, having a set schedule for the majority of the time can really help a two-year-old to relax and know their place is secure.

3. Patience: It’s true that toddlers are not always easy to handle. They really do grab whatever they can and make messes as much as possible. It’s just the way it is. Parents need to educate themselves on what is normal behavior for the stage their child is in and then set their expectations based on that stage. Don’t expect a two year old to be as responsible as a ten year old.

4. Modeling: Toddlers usually follow the saying, “monkey see/monkey do”. They really learn a lot from watching the behaviors and attitudes of those around them; especially parents. Therefore, parents must do their best to model the behaviors and attitudes they want their children to repeat. One area of special concern is the parents ability to calm themselves down under pressure. The way parents handle life-stress will also be the way their children learn to handle stress. If a parents panics or loses control under pressure, how can they expect their toddler to control their emotions?

5. Love: Of course, as challenging as toddlers are, they need LOTS of love from both mom and dad. This includes hugs, kisses, appropriate touch, tickling, playing, giving baths, and stories at bedtime. Parents should do their best to spend at least 20-30 minutes every day with their toddler, doing things the toddler wants to do. Getting on the floor and playing with your toddler will go a long way to helping that child to feel loved and appreciated. Normally, this investment will also increase the parent’s ability to discipline that child later.

Hey, enjoy the toddler years. Really..........it can be done. I promise. Drink in all the great moments of these years. Hold your toddler whenever you can. Kiss them often. Spend quality time with them. Remember, these years won’t last forever..........thank heaven. :)


About the Author: Aaron Welch is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at the LifeWorks Group, Inc. in Winter Park, Florida. He has devoted his life to reaching out and helping people grow and mature through difficult life situations. Whether it has been through clinical counseling, pastoral ministry, youth camps and conventions, public speaking, leadership training, educational instruction, athletic coaching or small group ministry, Aaron has over eighteen years of experience in assisting people through life struggles and personal growth. His genuine love for people and his outgoing personality combine to create a safe and caring environment for putting the pieces of life back together. To learn more about the LifeWorks Group, Inc. please visit, www.LifeWorksGroup.org.