Ahhhh, the New Year is almost here! Ahhh! Is this how the upcoming New Year feels to you? If so, you are not alone, but lets see if we can improve the ahhhh to maybe a woo hoo!
Some people use the New Year to try to shove all of their goals into the first week or month. They make resolutions, promise themselves various things, and plan for immediate success. Unfortunately, this often leaves people let down and feeling even worse then when they started. Also, right before the New Year is when people often seem to realize they didn’t complete all of their goals that they did set out to do the previous New Year, thus keeping them from feeling the joy and possibilities of the New Year.
However, we do not have to feel this way!! Below are some thoughts for the end of the year and some tips to start 2016 right and in a positive mindset.
The end of 2015 reflections:
-Instead of looking at what you didn’t accomplish, look at what you did. No matter how small or how tough of a year you had, you accomplished something positive. Find it and try not to let the goals you didn’t accomplish ruin the beautiful positive things you did.
-Remember you are human and humans sometimes do not accomplish their goals, but this isn’t a bad thing! We all do it. Such is life and even if we try to be perfect in the end we are human and being human is beautiful.
-If the goals you set in 2015 are still important be prepared to try again with the same hopefulness you had the first time.
Some tips for 2016:
I am generally against New Year resolutions, but making reasonable goals I believe can set up a fresh New Year nicely.
-Make small incremental goals. For example, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds make small goals to get there, i.e. 5-10 pounds by April, so on and so forth. Larger goals can feel daunting and can set you up for failure.
-Be kind to yourself. If you fall off track remember what an amazing human you are, forgive yourself, and jump back on. You only truly fail if you stop trying.
-Take care of your health. If your physical and mental health are good you will be able to accomplish other goals more successfully. If your goal is to improve your health, then that is amazing as well! The rest of your life will improve with it!
-Get a buddy. If your goal lends itself to a buddy see if you can enlist someone to work towards it with you. We all have bad days and when we have a buddy we are more willing to get through them.
-Finally, remember that if next year at this time you haven’t met your goals it is okay, 2017 will be waiting for you to try again. Sometimes things take longer than expected and all we can do is keep chugging along.
Good luck this New Year with any of your goals and if you choose not to set any that is fine too! May 2016 bring you much luck, love, and happiness!
-Carmen Wolf, LMFT
Here is some additional information and tips for parents and community from my stint on tonights newscast on Fox and WAVY.
Due to all of the recent publicized mass violence more people are becoming concerned about what they can do or how to prevent further violence. I have worked within several school systems and one key to being able to help our youth is having a robust mental health program. A mental health program that helps the youth that are not “identified” as having a mental health issue is very beneficial because it is preventative. Also, implementing one that is accessible by parents would have a huge impact. Destigmatizing mental health would go a long way also. There is no weakness in needing help sometimes; it actually shows strength of character.
Some reasons school violence happens and ways we can reduce it:
-Bullying, have an effective way to handle bullying in your school. It still happens and can be quite cruel, especially over social media. (Children’s reactions can go one of two ways, externalizing or internalizing, this is where you see outbursts or violence in externalizing behavior and suicide/depression for those who internalize)
-Undetected or unmonitored mental health issues, which can be related to a variety of issues including situational or organic. Please monitor children and their behaviors in and out of the home. Red flags may be isolation, extreme mood swings, depressive symptoms, (which can include obvious signs of depression like sadness, crying, exhaustion, and possible suicidal ideation, but can also include not so obvious signs like your child being easily irritated, anger outbursts, or psychosomatic issues like stomach aches or headaches), etc.
-Family violence or an uninvolved/neglectful family. Some children may take out home stressors on the people in school. When life is unsafe (this can be witnessing domestic violence as well) or if their family doesn’t appear to care, it can really take a toll on a child’s well being. Obviously I would want anyone who notices violence or neglect to take the time to report these issues to child protective services, but I would also encourage these parents to take time to learn better tools in coping with their children. Different parenting strategies are available to help parents better learn how to connect and discipline their children, without violence. If we haven’t learned anything from all of this violence maybe we should pick up on the fact that violence begets violence. If we are violent to our children in our home we are telling them that this is an acceptable way to behave in society. Children mimic their parents, so why wouldn’t they mimic this?
Some tips for parents:
-Take time to talk with your children about the violence that has been occurring. Give them space to talk with you about their fears and concerns and make sure to reassure them of their safety. We know that not everyday will be safe, but in general people are trying their best to keep the youth in our community safe and these actions can be used as a way to reassure our youth that our community is safe. Those vigilantly working towards our safety include the parents, teachers, and our police force.
-Keep the door for communication open even after the initial talk.
-Make sure you are involved in all aspects of your child’s life, including their social media**. You are the parent and have every right to inspect their “private” pages or electronics. If it is a rule to start with it will not be an issue and even if you are looking at everything expect that they are still hiding something. Teenagers can be very creative.
-Have dedicated family time. Family dinners that encourage talking are a great way to accomplish this. You want your children to know that your home is a safe place to express worries or even issues if they themselves are being bullied.
-Do not be afraid to seek mental health help if you or your child needs it. It is okay, really it is.
Tips for the community:
-Be observant, report any suspicious issues or individuals.
-Encourage people to drop the stigma around seeking mental health services. Our minds need to be strong just as much as our bodies.
-Implement school/community mental health programs that are there to help the overlooked children, which is a preventative measure. If we help them now we can prevent bigger issues from developing later.
Also, one of my favorite authors and presenters on this topic is Lt. Col Dave Grossman. His website is www.killology.com. He is an expert in mass shootings/violence. I would recommend you look into his work.
Finally, at Atlantic Family and Adolescent Therapy I provide various services that include individual therapy, family therapy, parenting classes (including one that helps reduce in home violence), and groups for teens to help with issues such as self-esteem, depression, anger, etc. Fell free to contact me for questions and help.
**Social media: This concept not only makes these threats easier, but it can also offer a feeling of anonymity and unaccountability, which is obviously not true. When needed, threats can be tracked down relatively easily and all anonymity goes out the window. Unfortunately, our youth may also see this in a backwards way and may think that if they do this then they will be famous and the internet is where fame lives. Some research cited by Lt Col Dave Grossman suggests that the more we sensationalize this violence the more it happens. In a sense we are playing right into the hands of someone who wants to be noticed.