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Klein ChrisTherapist's Corner...
The Power of Words

I’m a new grandmother! Our first grandchild was born earlier this year and what a joy this little guy is! I love being a mother and had no idea what being a grandmother would be like…until now. And with that, I’m reminded of the awesome responsibility of caring for a child and of the power of my words and actions as he watches me. He warms my heart with his smiles.

I’m not a violent person and those that know me would support that; however, on one occasion I wanted to punch a young mother (seriously). Let me unfold the story for you. I stopped at a card shop to purchase a birthday card for a friend. As I entered the store, I noticed a little boy, perhaps 3 or 4, who was looking with excitement and awe at the balloons that lined the wall behind the check-out counter. He looked up to his mother and said, “Mommy, mommy would you buy me a balloon?” Her response broke my heart and sparked my anger reaction. She said “Why would I want to buy you a balloon? You’re nobody special.” I wanted to pick that little boy up, look him in the eye and say “Don’t listen to her, you are special. Very special.” I did neither and the image and gut response has stayed with me. I’ve used that illustration many times to remind people of the power of our words.

We can all bring to mind something someone said to you that either discouraged or encouraged you. Perhaps someone told you that you weren’t college material or a negative comment about achieving your dreams or about your personality or physical appearance. The negative comments stick like Velcro in our minds and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other hand, you may remember a teacher, coach, grandparent or other significant person who was kind and supportive of you at a critical time in your life.

I’m reminded of the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. One of the four agreements is Be Impeccable with Your Word. The author asserts the following:

* Your WORD is the POWER that you have to create (dreams, feelings, who you are)

* The WORD is the most powerful tool you have as a human being

* Your WORD can CREATE or DESTROY

* One WORD can change a life

In 1954 Dorothy Law Nolte wrote a universally loved poem "Children Learn What They Live" which has nourished countless families and offered a simple yet powerful guide for all of us. Here is that poem as a reminder of the power of our words in the lives of a child (and the child in all of us).

Children Learn What They Live
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves. 
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy. If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence. If children live with tolerance, they learn patience. If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity. If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live. ~
Dorothy Law Nolte

Be an encouragement to someone today.

~ Chris Klein, Therapist

JMcCasslinTherapist's Corner...
The Anxious First-Time School Mom

I've done it. I survived the first week of school. No crying, no aspirin, no massages required (ok, a massage would have been nice). I took pictures of everything and my husband made fun of me for it but, secretly, I know he really loved that I was documenting our daughter's first day of Kindergarten. Preschool was documented, but not at this level...this is all-day school now. So when my son started preschool a few days later, his picture was taken a couple times but the onslaught will be saved for Kindergarten.

I'm not an overly-emotional mom. I watched parents cry as they dropped off their Kindergarteners (and older) and I smiled. I was excited for my child, and for the time it gives me to get things done at home (what? mornings without kids? maybe there's a chance my house will get clean...well, cleaner...before baby is born). 

However, I am a worrier. Did I teach my child how to treat others with respect? What if a bully came at her...could she handle herself? What if she became a bully? What if kids made fun of her because I allow her to dress as she pleases? What if...what if...???? (I worry about my son, too!)

As a therapist, and a parent, I know many of these situations are beyond my control. I try to teach my children that we can't control others, just ourselves and how we respond. As a parent, I try to use what happens as teachable moments. I teach my children things like 'Stand up for yourself but not by being mean or acting like a bully' or 'Being brave doesn't mean you aren't scared. It means doing what needs to be done even though you are scared.' 

Here's a few tips for dealing with bullies, whether it's in school or in our workplaces:
1. Walk away and report the bullying
2. Try to refrain from exhibiting extreme emotions in front of the bully. Showing extreme emotions tells the bully that he/she has control over you. Instead, stay calm and assertive. 
3. Try to see the big picture. What the bully says can be hurtful, but is it true? Will it matter to you in a week/month/year? Know your strengths. It may even turn out to be funny when you think about it without attaching emotions to it.
4. Find support - friends, teachers, co-workers, etc. Reach out to others who are bullied and be their support. Parents...talk to and listen to your children!
5. Exercise to relieve the stress. Find hobbies, etc., that help you cope with stress without becoming a bully yourself. Focus on the positives.
6. Remember one thing...safety comes first. Always...whether it is your own safety, your child's, etc. Too often people are hurt by bullying and either bully others in return or take it out on themselves through self-harm or suicide.  

(Admittedly, there are times when it is necessary to take more drastic steps, such as filing reports, seeking professional help or getting involved on a legal level.)

It's important as parents or friends that we don't overstep our boundaries too quickly...sometimes people just need support and to learn how to cope and find their own power/self-esteem in overcoming obstacles. They need to have a good listener and a person to bounce ideas off, not someone to intervene and do all the hard work for them. Use those teachable moments!

~ Jess McCaslin, Therapist

HainAFrom Our EAP...
End of Summer: 
Back to College Tips

Going back to school can be a tough transition, particularly after the relative ease of summer. Whether you’re a family with a college bound student or grade school trekker, taking a few hours to prepare can make a big difference in how you begin your school year. Last newsletter, we focused on grade school...now let's look at college.

1. (Both) Get organized: Put together a checklist of needed supplies and have them ready before school starts. Prepare and label all notebooks and folders ahead of time. Copy class schedules and tape them inside of folders along with maps and directions to classrooms and buildings.

2. (College) Avoid dangerous party rituals: Research links excessive alcohol consumption among college students to lower grades and higher incidences of assault and rape. Avoid events and people that are likely to expose you to negative peer pressure.

3. (Both) Do a walk through: Visiting the school ahead of time and doing a practice run is a good way to ensure a smooth first day. Take a notebook and jot down important locations and rehearse your routine.

4. (College) Use college counseling resources: Moving to campus often means leaving a good part of your social safety net behind. A change in environment can magnify problems. Almost all colleges offer free or low cost mental health resources. Take advantage of them if you feel overwhelmed, out of control, depressed or isolated.

5. (Both) Don’t over schedule: If extracurricular activities begin to be more of a chore than a fun break, then you’re probably overdoing things. Back off and reprioritize.

6. (College) Practice time management: Cramming for tests is less effective than studying in smaller chunks over time. Begin developing good time management skills by planning and sticking to a study schedule. Treating your schoolwork like an 8 hour a day job will make you more effective and help you prepare for life after college.

7. (Both) Keep the focus on learning: Don’t make getting good grades your end goal. Instead, treat them as a way of measuring progress. Understand that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Struggling with schoolwork does not make you stupid. Try to find real world applications for everything you’re taught.

~ Anna Hain, EAP Program Director

Reveling in Life Changes...Retirements at Family Resources

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In the left picture, Pam Clausen, therapist, accepts well-wishes written out on ribbons and tied to her new shawl. In the right picture, Judy Sandstrom (sitting), EAP Coordinator, celebrates her retirement with the staff of FRGN. Both ladies will be greatly missed at FRGN and we wish them much joy and happiness in their future!

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