Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Holiday Traditions Can Strengthen Your Family Ties

Holiday TraditionsHave you heard this one? During a discussion of holiday traditions, the teenager complains, “We don’t have any traditions. We just do the same old things every year!” While we smile at the kid’s perception, we recognize the value of giving the family a sense of continuity that ties them together through the years.

I am reminded of a holiday a couple of years ago. The host of the family gathering that year was dropping hints that they planned a surprise “non-traditional” dinner, and the person most distraught about the prospect was a 17 year old boy! Just when you feel as though a child wants nothing to do with the “old-fashioned ways” it becomes apparent that it actually matters to them – a lot!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

What to Do When a Family Member is Out of Control

AddictionFor some people, family is the greatest source of joy in life. For others, it may be the greatest source of pain. For most, it’s often a combination of the two. In my practice as a psychologist and in my own arenas of life I have known people who were struggling with a family member – child, sibling, parent, etc. – who was out of control. Many of the situations these people face involve a loved one who is struggling with addiction, spending money unwisely, refusing to control their anger or selfishness, or who is living with a mental illness.

The almost universal question is, “What can I do?” Situations and resources vary from family to family, but here are some general principles that may help you when you have to make a decision about what to do.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Creating an Educational Advantage for Your Children

Young family on floor with mother, father, daughter and son

Many American parents are angry because of their belief that our public educational system is in shambles. In federal and state political arenas, education is a hot topic and emotions run high as parents, teachers, administrators and politicians wrestle with the issues, and sometimes it’s the children who get caught in the crossfire in the battle over education.

Many parents complain that political correctness, waning values, liberal philosophies and a lack of appropriate discipline has permeated our public schools, rendering them ineffective and even harmful to children and families. The news outlets publish attention-grabbing headlines about students who are severely punished for minor or unintended infractions and others that blame the failing schools for kids who inflict violence on their fellow students.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Peace on Earth Begins at Home

PeaceFor many families Winter brings the biggest holiday celebrations of the year, with relatives making it a priority to come together even if they have to travel from all over the country. Our own branch of the family tree is growing as our children marry and have children, and I can’t think of anyone I would rather spend time with on a special holiday than my extended family! I love to anticipate laughing, eating, playing games and opening gifts together.

Between holidays, birthdays, weddings, and funerals, there may be many times your family gathers together, and maybe you eagerly look forward it the same way I do – unless your happy holiday bubble bursts because conflict arises between your loved ones. I hear often about the heartache people feel when Christmas or another important occasion is tainted with strained relationships or bad behavior by one or more family members. Somehow, a feud or a bad attitude seems magnified during the season of hope and joy. So, how do you try to restore peace for your special day? Here are some ideas:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Don’t Miss the Opportunity

OpportunityDo you have plans to spend some time with the people you care about the most? If not, stop what you are doing right now and think about something special you can do with your kids, spouse, significant other or friend that you will really enjoy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ten Commitments of Great Parents

At one time or another, nearly every parent says, “I wish my children came with a set of instructions!” While none of us can claim to have all the answers, I’ve given a lot of thought to some of the basic rules for raising healthy children. So, I submit for your consideration a simple “Top Ten” list of ways to be great parents.


1. PROVIDE FOR PHYSICAL NEEDS – Growing children need healthy diets, adequate clothing, and quality health care. And they need protection from harm – from “small stuff” like sunburn or too much junk food to real dangers like careless driving or access to alcohol or drugs.

2. BE THERE FOR THEM – When your kids talk to you, face them and really listen. Turn off the TV if you have to. As much as possible, attend Little League games, school conferences or band concerts. Your presence, attention, and availability mean so much!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Escape the Argument Trap

A Strategy Guaranteed to STOP the Endless, Pointless Arguing With Children and Teens

As a father of three children who are young adults now, I know all about the temptations that can lure you into the Argument Trap.  You know what I mean; those circular, relentless conversations that leave you battle-weary and sometimes cause you to say and do things you regret.  Even though I spend nearly every day helping people improve their personal and professional relationships, I can still fall prey to these temptations if I’m not careful.

However, as a veteran parent, I have found a strategy that virtually guarantees that I won’t fall into this trap again:  I’ve memorized 10 very simple, but critically important questions.  Most of the time, recalling even two or three of the questions can be enough to head off a fight and set the stage for constructive dialogue.

If you want to stop the arguing in your home, review this list of questions every day for the next 30 days and watch the transformation begin.

1.  Am I under control?
2.  Am I setting a good example for my child?
3.  Have I carefully listened to my child’s thoughts and feelings?
4.  Have I sincerely acknowledged and empathized with my child’s feelings?
5.  Do I understand my child’s underlying need or want and have I acknowledged it?
6.  Have I expressed my thoughts, feelings and rationale clearly and honestly?
7.  Is the limit or boundary I set reasonable for my child’s age?
8.  Have I taken advantage of the teachable moment?
9.  Am I making sure to address my child’s behavior and not attack my child?
10. Am I ready and willing to follow through with appropriate discipline?

You CAN break free from the Argument Trap… begin your escape today!

Live, Work

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Newtown, Connecticut Tragedy – Love Well!

Today is a very sad and somber day in our Nation as we grieve the loss of the 20 children and six adults who were murdered Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.

This tragic event is a shocking reminder of just how quickly and unexpectedly we can lose the people we love.  We pray that something good will rise out of the ashes of this horrific event.

As we wait to hear the eventual stories of healing and recovery, we can immediately commit to demonstrating affection and care to those whom we love and cherish most.

Where ever your family and friends may be today, let them know what they mean to you and how much you love them.  If they are close by, give them a hug and vow to never take their precious life for granted.

Please pray for all who grieve today and for the family and friends of those who died and whose lives will be forever changed.

Love Well!

Dr. Todd

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Wisdom of a Champion – Part II

Yesterday I shared with you the first tier of Coach John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success”.  UCLA’s legendary Coach John Wooden died last Friday at the age of 99.  Coach Wooden attributed much of the success he and his teams achieved over the years to the application of his fundamental principles of leadership.

Coach Wooden described the second tier of his “Pyramid of Success” as being less about the heart and more about the head.  It involves the execution of mental processes that reflect a strong will to achieve and win in all areas of life.  Consider the next four values identified by Coach Wooden in his “Pyramid of Success”.

– Coach Wooden emphasized the importance of exercising control of one’s emotions as well as behavior.  He believed that self-control in the little things leads to self-control of the bigger things.  Self-control starts with the leader and must be consistently modeled to each team member in both word and deed.

ALERTNESS – Alertness is “the ability to be constantly observing, absorbing and learning from what’s going on around you. “ As a leader, Wooden believed that you must always be awake, alive and alert when it comes to assessing yourself as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your team and your competition.

INITIATIVE – To be an effective leader and team member you must demonstrate the initiative to execute.  Don’t worry about mistakes or even failure because you can learn great things from both.  Wooden recognized that the leader who has a fear of failure, and consequently hesitates to act, rarely meets with success.

INTENTNESS – According to Coach Wooden, the word intentness conveys diligence, determination, fortitude and resolve—persistence.  “A leader lacking Intentness will find himself or herself leading a team intent on giving up.

Live, Work and Relate

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Wisdom of a Champion – Coach John Wooden

Last Friday we lost one of the most successful and beloved coaches of all time.  John Wooden, UCLA’s legendary basketball coach, died at the age of 99 – just four months short of his 100th birthday.

In his 40 years of coaching high school and college basketball, Coach Wooden had 885 wins and only 203 losses.  His UCLA Bruins still hold the NCAA record for winning 88 straight games from 1971 to 1974.  He also led the Bruins to an unprecedented 10 National Championships.

John Wooden will not only be remembered for his success on the basketball court, but for his success in life.  Several years ago I read John Wooden’s autobiography and was greatly impressed by his insights on leadership and success. This week I will share some of Coach Wooden’s legendary teachings on living, working and relating well.

John Wooden is probably best known for the principles he taught his teams over the years known as the “Pyramid of Success”.  Wooden wrote in his book, “After much reflection, trial and error, and some soul searching, I choose 15 fundamental values as blocks for my Pyramid of Success.  I believe they are prerequisites for a leader and an organization whose goal is to perform at the highest level of which they are capable.”  Here is the first tier, the foundation, of Mr. Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success”.

Whether you are leading your family, a sports team or a team of professionals at work, these fundamentals of success can help you achieve the highest levels of performance.

First Tier of the “Pyramid of Success”

INDUSTRIOUSNESS – There is “no substitute for old-fashioned work” according to Wooden.  “Without it crops aren’t planted, corn won’t grow, hay isn’t harvested. You perish.”

ENTHUSIASM – “You must be enthusiastic if you are to stimulate others.