Powerful Suggestions

Woman under hypnosisIf you have ever seen a hypnosis show, you already know how this works, but if you have not, this should be very interesting for you. Either way, after watching a hypnosis performance recently, I think there are important lessons we can all learn from it.

On Ronit’s birthday, we went to a local comedy club. There is nothing happier than laughter and good comedy can really brighten up a birthday night, so there we were. The first act was a very good, but normal, stand up routine. We ate, we laughed and we had a good time.

The second act was called a “Comedy Hypnosis Show”. It started during the break with a multimedia presentation showing swinging watches, spinning spirals and other “street” symbols of hypnosis, along with boasting words about the performer himself and his abilities to deal with the subconscious mind.

“This is going to be cheesy”, I thought, “Maybe the hypnosis is just a gimmick”.

But I was partly wrong. It was only cheesy. The hypnosis was real. And impressive. And quite educational, actually.

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Emotional Credit Line

Old piggy bankNow, perhaps more than ever in our lifetime, things are tough. Money is tight, prices are up, revenues are down, globalization, the Internet and mobile technology change almost everything we know. As a result, pressure is mounting and many parents struggle to cope with it.

In the past week, two things happened that made me think of using buffers or “lines of credit” as a strategy for reducing pressure, both financial and emotional, and keeping ourselves sane, while being better parents for our kids.

The first thing was Eden’s presentation of her research on corporal punishment. You may remember we invited our readers to participate in this research, which examined the links between parents’ disciplinary methods and things like the number of children in the family, age differences, financial situation and more.

When she analyzed parents’ and children’s’ responses to her survey, it occurred to Eden that stress may be a mediator between the various characteristics of each family and the amount of physical punishment used by the parents. Turns out, it is. She found that when parents experience more stress in their life, due to having more kids, having them close together and/or not having enough money to support them, they used less positive reinforcement with their children and were more abusive towards them, both verbally and physically.

Read more about how to reduce financial stress

Helicopter Parenting: is it a choice?

clip_image008_thumbHelicopter Parenting is a term used to describe parents who “hover” over their kids and try to control their kids’ choices regarding friends, education, schooling, hobbies career and even partners. The original intention behind the helicopter parenting style is to protect children and to help them get the most out of life by directing them towards what the parents think is right for the child.

Helicopter parenting comes with much love and care for the children, but there is always the risk the parents may become obsessive and create a dependent and helpless attitude in the children by not giving them the opportunities to experience, learn and evolve using their own judgment.

The greatest risk of using this parenting method is that of the parents adopting a form of perfectionism that sends a message to the child that Mom or Dad’s way of doing things is the only right way. Rather than creating a feeling of safety, love and appreciation for the child, perfectionism creates a feeling of inadequacy and fear. In simple words:

Anxious parents raise anxious kids

A new study showed that an over-involved or overprotective parenting style, often referred to as “helicopter mothers”, increases the risk for later anxiety in children. The study, conducted by researchers from the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University, followed 200 children, aged 3-4 years old, and again 5 years after, at the age of 8-9. It also contains observed interactions between mothers and children, as well as mothers’ responses to statements like “I determine whom my child will play with” and “I dress my child even if he/she can do it alone”.

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How to Change Habits: Flexibility of the Mind

People jumpgin and cheeringThis is your self-help guide to changing habits. Now that you know about types of habits and how they are formed and you know how habits affect your life, it is time to take control of your life by breaking limiting habits and creating new, empowering ones, instead.

  1. Write down 10 recurring situations or outcomes in your life that you are not happy with
  2. Decide which category they are in
  3. Ask yourself what is you think, feel, say or do that brings you into each situation or gets you each outcome
  4. Check if the items on your list have anything in common
  5. Take yourself into one of those events in your mind and experience it again. Look around and try to discover the exact circumstances in that situation. Are you tired? Worried? Has something else happened that day? The day before? Are you hungry? Write as many details as you can. If you do it for the 10 items, you will find a pattern
  6. Take yourself to the one of those events again. This time, pay attention to the way you feel. What scares you about what happened? Stay in that situation until you find out what you are afraid of. When this fear first formed, it made you develop the habit to overcome it or manage it. We all develop habits to help us cope better. Sometimes the habits are not updated. They were appropriate 30, 20, 10 years ago, but may not be appropriate under different circumstance. We are just not the same people

Read more about how to break bad habits easily

What Does the Future Hold for Our Kids?

Hey Matthew song posterIf I gave every parent a peek into the future, most parents would want to know what would become of their children. We dedicate a lot of time, effort and love to get them to a good place and even a glimpse 10 minutes into the future could really help us direct our actions.

Eden had to raise a virtual child in a computer program for a course in psychology. I thought it was great fun. The rumors were that some of the virtual kids in the program had died or had gotten into lots of trouble before they had reached the age of 18, which was the end of the “parenting game”. Eden’s daughter was gorgeous, happy and successful.

I told Eden that her real daughter would be even better, because the choices the program allowed her to choose from were limited to 4 options, when in reality, you typically have many more options.

As Eden “played” the game, I started thinking it was a good learning tool for parents – not 100% realistic and I would not let any computer program or statistical research help me raise my child – but I really thought it was interesting to know how different parenting styles result in different behaviors in children. In a way, I thought the game was the closest thing to predicting your child’s future.

Read more about how to help your kids have a bright future

How to Change Habits: Habit Types and How they Form

How Churchill might have looked as a childLife coaching is the science of exploring which small habitual changes can make the biggest impact on people’s life. Habits are stronger than reason and for a person to be on the winning side of life. He or she needs to strengthen good habits, break bad ones, think up new ones that will create happiness, health and success and do them repeatedly until they become second nature and are done without effort. Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” and I agree.

We meet habits in the first days of our lives. I remember coming home with Eden from the hospital after her birth. I had spent 10 days with a huge infection, high fever and without being able to breastfeed. Everyone, including the doctors and the nurses, said I would no longer have breast milk. I wanted to breastfeed very much and I was so disappointed with the birth experience that ended up in a cesarean that I was determined to succeed. Eden took breast milk with no problems at all and because she had been fed from a bottle every 4 hours for 10 days in the hospital, she had developed a habit and was happy breastfeeding every 4 hours.

Parents have the ability to develop many habits in their children. The younger the kids are when they develop their habits, the stronger and more natural they are to them. When people ask me about my own children’s success, I say that they have a “success habits”. I see “being healthy” as a habit, “being talented” as a habit and “being friendly” as a habit. The list of the habits we can instill in our children is endless.

Read more about how bad habits are created

What Does Being a Parent Mean to You?

clip_image004_thumbHave you ever wondered what being a parent means to you? Besides being biologically driven by your survival instincts. Besides being put on a familiar and safe social path. Have you ever really stopped to think why you have chosen to bring children into this world and what would happen if you had not been a parent at all?

I know a woman who had her first child when she was 41. She had to go through medical torments and spend a lot of money to have them, but she wanted them with everything she had and now, she feels complete. Still, she cannot describe why.

Last night, Ronit and I watched an Australian film called Not Suitable for Children, a story of Johan, a young party animal, who find out he is about to lose his fertility and embarks on a crazy mission to have a child. Being generally reckless, it seems odd to everyone around him that he wants to be a parent so much, but bit by bit, we find out.

We thought the movie was beautiful. It was well played, well produced, and despite the expected direction of the plot, managed to deliver a few surprises and include several side topics into the mix, such as the single 40-year-old woman and the lesbian couple.

There is one point where Jonah is asked why he is so desperate to have a child, even though he knows he is too young and has no steady partner. He says something like, “Just before my mum died, she told me she was OK with it, because she had my sister and me and we made her happy. I want that too”.

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How to Change Habits: Servants or Masters

Good habits create a good lifeIn a very chaotic lifestyle of high stress and too many changes, we depend a lot on our habits, because they give us certainty. Without the certainty of habits, our life would be full of fear.

Imagine getting up in the morning, not knowing if there is food in the refrigerator, or sending your kids to school, not knowing if they will come back, or leaving your home in the morning, not knowing if it will be there when you return.

Certainty is essential for our emotional survival. When we have the confidence that things will happen the way we expect them to, we can stop worrying and struggling. We are more relaxed and therefore think better and get better outcomes. To create certainty, we develop habits that allow us not to think and re-think everything we do. Habits are automatic rules of behavior that help us feel safe.

However, habits can heal us or kill us.

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Handy Family Tips: How to Peel Avocado

Special peeler for avocadoI love avocado. Always have. And I am very happy that my kids love avocado as well. I love avocado, but do you know what I do not like? Waste, clutter and buying products that only fit one specific purpose (well, that is a kind of waste).

A few weeks ago, I spent a week running workshops at a conference in the north of the country. The conference organizers booked for me into a serviced apartment, because they thought I would be more comfortable making my own food. Since I worked most of the day, I hardly had time to cook for myself, but in the evening and at night, when I felt hungry, I could make myself simple, yet tasty, things to eat.

When I checked what was in the apartment’s kitchen drawers and the cupboards, it hit me that everything was so organized. I compared it to my own kitchen cupboards and drawers. Ouch! That hurt!

No, they did not have all the utensils I had at home, but I could manage with everything just fine.

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Real Education

Smiling students after graduationWhen I was a kid, my parents valued education and told my sisters and me that getting a good education was the key to having opportunities in life. My mother was a school teacher, so she could help us with homework throughout most of our school years, and my father, well, he was sorry he never got the chance to get more education, so he just gave us the drive.

But when I grew up and had children of my own, I realized that my path had been laid out for me and that I had pursued education without ever stopping to ask my self why. I may have chosen my fields of study, but the thought of traveling, taking a “gap year” to work or even starting a business had never crossed my mind.

If we look at the history of knowledge, we can see that it was once reserved to special people, such as nobles, religious leaders and professional scholars. Later on, getting a “good education” required no entitlement, only money, and over time, education became more and more accessible to everyday people.

Still, the feeling that education gives you and edge and lifts your social standing remained and was transferred from one generation to the next. Knowledge was power, or so everybody thought.

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