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Tips of the Month for Families are regular tips for building strong relationships and healthy families. If you would like to sign up to receive these tips, scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up.

Dehumanizing Language

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” — Friedrich Nietzsche This well-known quotation has been invoked countless times over the past hundred years. Upon hearing it, people tend to nod in agreement, recognizing the essential truth in Nietzsche’s words. What goes unrecognized is the problematic word choice: monster. Consider this:

Show Your Children they are Loved

Do your children feel loved? Do they move through their days with a deep and abiding sense that they are truly loved and cherished? Studies have found that feeling loved confers important benefits: physical and mental health benefits,i protection against anxiety and depression, reduced risk of substance abuse, a sense of security, and more successful relationships.

Non-judgmental Empathic Listening

Is there a secret to raising kids with high self-esteem? Arguably there is. It’s a rarely known approach any parent can master: non-judgmental empathic listening coupled with normalization. Through this special blend, our children learn to trust their emotions. “Knowing that my feelings are okay allows me to know that I’m okay.”

Sibling Conflict

During this pandemic, many siblings are bickering more than ever. Being home together so much of the time, opportunities to get on each other’s nerves are endless. Some studies suggest that young sibling conflict occurs an average of eight times per hour.1 It can drive a parent crazy! But their fighting has an upside: it’s how they learn the consequences of playing unfairly (your playmate might up and leave), or the consequences of provoking someone bigger and stronger (you…

Honesty is often less Scary than Kids’ Imaginations

Remember Hansel and Gretel? Since 1812, children have been engaged by this familiar story from Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Pressured by their stepmother, a father abandons his children in a faraway forest and leaves them to die. The children are kidnapped by a witch who plans to devour them for her dinner. With themes of child abandonment, kidnapping and a near death experience, today’s parents might consider Hansel and Gretel dangerously dark and frightening for youth’s “fragile”…

Sparking Gratitude & Naming Losses

A swatch of silver lining during the coronavirus pandemic: To Have (sparking gratitude) and Have Not (naming losses) conversations with the children. There’s much they can learn — lessons for a lifetime of emotional health and well-being — by guiding them through these tough times in an emotionally intelligent way.

Skillful Listening Tips for Parents

Many of us have it backwards. With our kids, we emphasize talking rather than listening. We believe that good parenting means explaining, reminding, correcting, admonishing, instructing — it’s no wonder a lot more words come out of our mouths than theirs. In time, all our gab tends to turn them off. By adolescence, many have tuned us out.

Teaching Kids to Repair

Few parents are emotionally honest with kids when they speak unkindly. “You’re such a miserable mother,” snaps a teenage daughter, and we sharply retort with “Don’t talk to me that way!” Or a pre-school age son shouts, “You’re stupid!” and we say, “What did I tell you about language like that?” The story we tell ourselves may be that our son is overtired from a very long day, or our daughter is stressed out with too much homework. Essentially, we give their misbehavior a…