Parenting Tips

Shame: The Difference Between Men and Women

Posted on December 26, 2012. Filed under: Children and Adolescents, Healing, Lifestyle, Men, Parenting Tips, Relationship, Sex & Intimacy, Trauma, Women | Tags: , , |

Since men and women experience shame differently, it is important to understand how it may play out in a romantic relationship with your partner.

shame girlTypically shame presents itself in woman as having to do it all, do it perfectly, and never let others see you sweat.  For women, shame is a web of unobtainable conflicting competing expectations of who they are supposed to be.

boy ashamedAlternatively, men feel the pressure of not being perceived as weak or needing.  They are encouraged to be vulnerable, yet get ridiculed and beaten up if they fall or fail.  For men shame is a competition, a game of proving yourself, and the pressure to hold in emotions or not show sensitivity or softer emotions. And thus the automatic and familiar emotion that is expressed is anger, irritability or violence.

If you would like assistance in reducing the shame you experience in your life and improving your sense of self-worth contact True Potential Counseling to schedule an appointment today.

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The Shame Game

Posted on December 6, 2012. Filed under: Communication, Lifestyle, Men, Parenting Tips, Relationship, Women | Tags: , , , |

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt

This inspirational quote by Theodore Roosevelt exemplifies the essence of daring greatly and having the courage to take emotional risks, be innovative and face uncertainty bravely.  In life, many of us find ourselves working very hard to be seen, but at the same time are working very hard to stay small.  Why is that?  Are we fearful of being vulnerable? shamed? rejected? being exposed?

These are probably all true.  But another important factor, is that it is safer, easier and more comfortable to be in the crowd, commenting and critiquing, than it is to be a gladiator on the field of your own life, with its trials, tribulations and victories.

Sometimes I hear people say that vulnerability is a weakness; however, on the contrary.  When people take emotional risks, expose themselves openly and face uncertainty with honesty and valor, it is the most accurate measure of courage and strength that I have ever witnessed.  Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change and if we want to have breakthroughs we have to be willing to accept that we will also have some breakdowns too along the way.

Unfortunately we can’t achieve greatness and evolve if we are only willing to get into the arena when we are as perfect and possible and wearing our bullet proof vest that protects us from the unknown.  Plus that is not what spectators want to see anyways.  They want to be with us as we dare greatly, step into the unknown with courage, ready to face vulnerabilities, shame, and fears that all human beings face.

Brene Brown, PhD, LCSW at the University of Houston is a researcher on vulnerability, shame and courage, and reports that shame is an epidemic in our society and affects not only our relationship with ourselves, but also our relationship with our partner and children (i.e. parenting styles).   She mentions, “If you put shame in a petri dish you need three things for it to grow exponentially:  secrecy, silence and judgment; if you douse shame with empathy it can’t survive.”  She states that empathy is the antidote for shame and if we can begin to show compassion for ourselves and then ultimately to others. we as a society will be able to find comfort in one another again.

A key distinction between guilt and shame is that guilt is when we say, “I am sorry.  I made a mistake” and shame is when we say, “I am sorry.  I am a mistake.”  For many who believe the latter, there is a high correlation with addiction, violence, bullying, depression, aggression, suicide and eating disorders.  The first step to shifting out of shame, is being empathetic with ourselves.  And since we typically are our own worst critic, we need to start there.

The main two messages my clients mention when dealing with their shame and pain is either “I’m not good enough” or if they begin to believe they are worthy their internal critic says, “who do you think you are?”  In order change patterns of avoidance and hostility, you can begin to break free from these negative belief patterns with the help of a professional can resolve painful memories and deep rooted hurts.  Using a technique called Eye-Movment Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), is an effective and evidenced-based treatment that get results quickly.  For more information on how to get assistance in healing from the past or present, please contact True Potential Counseling for more details.

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3 Tips For Parents Dealing With Difficult Kids

Posted on December 20, 2011. Filed under: Children and Adolescents, Health, Parenting Tips, Relationship | Tags: , , , |

First it is important to evaluate what issues are going on at home or at school that may be triggering your child’s problematic behavior.  For example, if there is discord or arguing at home or if your child is being teased or bullied at school you child’s behavior may be his/her way of expressing his/her grief and frustration about his/her life circumstance.  Moreover, your child may be trying to regain a sense of control by rebelling against you as the authority figure.   Although you can be sensitive and compassionate to your child’s pain, keep in mind that these are two separate issues and should be addressed separately. Below I offer 3 tips that can help you regain your authority as a parent and provide you with some practical ways to deal with your child’s difficult behavior.

1. Ask yourself, “What Do I Want My Child To Learn?”: Your role as a parent is very similar to the role of a teacher.  When dealing with your child’s difficult behavior, it is important to think about what you want to teach your child whenever you want to get a message across to them.  For instance, if they are struggling with getting their homework in on time, teaching them organizational skills or time management skills would be helpful.

2.  Setting Limits- Setting boundaries with your child does not mean that you are being uncaring, but rather are being practical and realistic about what is and what is not possible. As a parent do you ever fall into the emotional trap of guilt, fear, frustration or reactivity? If so, you are not alone.  A simple way to avoid getting caught up in the emotional parenting trap is by focusing on your child’s behavior, rather than on the emotional state of the moment.  This will provide you with a compass on how to maneuver through the situation, because you will no longer be getting caught up in the power struggles, the emotional drama, or the internal guilt trip that clouds your judgment, but rather will be able to address the real problem; your child’s disruptive behavior at home. Also be aware of your child’s ability to turn one parent against the other and prevent this from happening by remaining a united parental team.

3.  Establish New Rules- You teach your child how to treat you. You child is behaving negatively because they have the perception and attitude that you as the parent have lost control.  You can begin reclaiming your role as the parent and your sense of control by clearly establishing new rules in the household and defining what behaviors are unacceptable.  Then outline the consequences that will ensue as a result of his/her behavior and FOLLOW THROUGH on those consequences. This part if very important.  If you want your child to begin taking you seriously, you too need to be serious and follow-through on the consequences that you establish.  If not, the same behavior will continue to occur, leaving you powerless and a hostage in your own home.  The choice is yours.

Please feel free to comment below on how these tips were beneficial and share techniques you have used that have been successful.  For more information please visit my website at

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Breast-feeding solutions

Posted on December 28, 2010. Filed under: Children and Adolescents, Health, Parenting Tips, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Breast-feeding at the beginning can be a nightmare and is far from being easy or natural.  Since it is so painful and comes with various problems, it is calculated that only 43% of moms are breast-feeding at six months.  Some common challenges are: swollen breasts, sore nipples, newborn babies crying, baby’s stomach being swollen, the baby not latching on correctly, baby not gaining enough weight, low supply of milk, abnormal symptoms for the baby such as the poop being frothy, green or bloody.  In addition many couple’s also struggle with lack of sleep, irritability, and  interpersonal conflicts.  

Some solutions for these array of obstacles are the following:

SWOLLEN BREASTS and SORE NIPPLES:  It is suggested to apply warm compresses to your breasts prior and after feedings or whenever you feel pain.  Another option is to soak in a warm tub of water to help relieve the pain.  An alternative is to alternate between ice packs and warm compresses if you are not breastfeeding.  Since Using an ice pack will inhibit milk flow this therapy is not suggested only before feedings.  Hydration is also very important.  Drinking at least eight to ten 8 oz. glasses of water every day is recommended.   Also be sure to eat a diet high in fiber and vitamin C.  This will help remove toxins from the body and keep your skin hydrated.  Stay away from spicy or processed foods, since this can slow down your digestion and create further inflammation.

STOMACH ISSUES:   If your newborn is having stomach issues there is a high likelihood that they are having a reaction to the premilk, this is a thin white fluid discharged from the breasts at the beginning of milk production, which is full of sugar and can irritate a baby’s stomach.  It is suggested to get rid of the initial premilk and then innitiate breast-feeding so your newborn will only drink the hindmilk,  which contains less sugar.  This will significantly decrease the stomach issues your child experiences.

NOT LATCHING ON:  If your baby is not latching on correctly your newborn will not get the nutrition necessary for increased body weight.  It is recommended to take the baby of and on until he or she latches on properly.  You can do so by putting your finger under her chin to feel her chin moving.  You will also want to look for a wiggle at her ears when he or she eats and to listen to your baby swallowing to ensure that the baby is receiving the milk properly.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend moms breast-feed for at least a year, especially the first 6 months.  Since the milk contains antibodies to fight infection and develop a healthy immune system, there are significant health benefits for the baby such as: fewer cases of ear infections, reduction in the amount of possbile respitory problems and less gastrointestinal problems.  It is noted that children also do better academically later in life if they were breastfed and received the nutritional benefits in the early developmental stages of their life.

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The Bullies vs. The Underdog

Posted on August 31, 2010. Filed under: Children and Adolescents, Parenting Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

In 1972 social Psychologist Irving Janis coined the term group think, which is a pattern of faulty decision making because of group pressures leading to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.”  Groups, such youth, gangs, and affiliated groups, affected by group think ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups.  A group is especially vulnerable to group think when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.

What students, parents and other adults can do when they see this behavior?  Evidence shows that bullying peaks in middle school and contrary to societal beliefs, female bullying is on the rise.  Parents can help develop and increase self-esteem of the child and learn effective parents and communication skills.  Teaching values and principles of respect, trust, understanding, communication, self-esteem, how to cooperate and defend themselves, turn schools into genuine communities, teach kindness. 

Olweus Bullying Prevention Program was implemented in 1983 in Norway after 2 teenage victims of bullying committed suicide.  In order to address this pressing problem in the school system, teachers, janitors, and bus drivers were all trained in identifying instances of bullying and taught how to intervene.  In addition, children in every grade participated in a weekly classroom discussion about friendship and conflict and parents were involved in the process from the beginning.  As a result of this “It Takes a Village To Raise a Child” philosophy reports of being bullied and bullying of others was drastically reduced by 50%.  Not only did the peer and teacher ratings of bullying problems yield similar results, but there was also a marked reductions in student reports of general antisocial behavior, such as vandalism, fighting, theft, and truancy.  There were clear improvements in the classroom social climate, as reflected in students’ reports of improved order and discipline, more positive social relationships, and more positive attitudes toward schoolwork and school.  Dr. Dan Olweus, is the pioneer of bully prevention and more information can be found on

By society choosing not to tolerate bullying and the community taking action in addressing this issue directly, not only will improvements be found in the school community, but in our community generations to come.  Parents can decrease the odds of violent or bullying behavior by creating a nurturing environment where the child feels loved, important, safe and secure.  A strong and secure attachment with parents and other role models enables a child to explore the world and establish healthy relationships with others.  Encouraging empathy at an early age is paramount.  On the contrary, parental neglect, abuse, a highly critical or chaotic home life may have the opposite effect.  Children who are exposed to violence at home are more likely to bully.  Student learning leadership and respect skills so they can have the skills to think independently, develop awareness and mindfulness skills so they can speak to a school representative, stand up for the underdog.  The help that is available and how my approach can assist children and adolescents affected by bullying or past traumas.

This morning I was interviewed on NPR on the subject of bullying behaviors and how we as a society can address this issue and how to recognize the signs.  Please feel free to comment your thoughts below.

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Bullying Evolution

Posted on August 29, 2010. Filed under: Children and Adolescents, Parenting Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Bullying today is much different in form, method and context than the bullying of the past.  Although the concept of victim and perpetrator has always been apart of our human primal instinct for centuries, the wired world of today poses unique dangers to kids because bullying and harassment are now able to be done online and offline.

Contrary to the bullying of the past, where bullies would be a few key recognizable individuals or gangs that posed a threat, the bullies of today use a variety of emotionally and physically abusive behaviors that negatively impact the self-esteem of fellow classmates.  Some behaviors consist of verbal insults, threats, pushing, shoving, grabbing, slapping,  kicking, biting, hitting, treats with knifes or guns, using knifes or guns, and theft.  Unfortunately, bullying exists because it works and is positively reinforced by the sense of power and importance gained after a victimization of another person has taken place.  It is vitally important for children at an early age to gain a sense of importance through nurturing, quality time and love from parents and positive role models as a preventative measure for future bullying.

On the contrary, in the 1940’s the major discipline concerns of the time were: talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise, running in the hall, cutting in line, dress code violations, and littering.  In the 1950’s the image of bullying is clearly depicted in the hit t.v. show Little Rascals that portrays Butch as the neighborhood tyrant, regularly tormenting members of the fun-loving mischievous group.

In the 1990’s the top disciplinary problems in schools had shifted dramatically to: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery and assault.   On April 20, 1999 the world watched in shock the massacre at Columbine High School.  As a result of relentless bullying these children took the law into their own hands and retaliated with the use of violence and killed several students and teachers on campus.  And today in 2010’s after the death of Pheobe Prince, we are reevaluating as a society the effects of bullying on the livelyhood of our youth.  The associated press/MTV conducted a survey on “sexting” which revealed that 30% of 14-24 year olds had been involved in some sort of sexual text-messaging and 18% had received a naked picture or video of someone they knew from that person.  With today’s modern technology electronic media has yielded another mode of attack: cyberbullying, such as intimidating someone via text messaging, email or posting on social media sites such as MySpace of Facebook.

From a research study conducted by Snell and Volokh in 2005 it is hypothesized that what causes of bullying and intimidation is due to: poverty, breakdown of families, domestic violence, child abuse, society-wide violence, drug culture, population mobility (anonymity), violent cultural imagery, materialism and advertising, competitiveness and high expectations from parent (which leads to loss of the child’s identity).

In order to address the bullying epidemic we need to address various components of the behavior.  First, creating a sense of community and accountability in our society by adopting and proactively applying the principles that it takes a villiage to raise a child.  Secondly, in the schools by incorporating education on communication, self-esteem, respect, trust, empathy, conflict resolution skills as well as a disciplinary system that sets clear expectations and consequences for bullying behavior.  Parents teaching these same principles at home and seeking parent training courses so they can create an effective framework in the home environment.  Lastly and most importantly, the child working with with a counselor and/or mentor to improve self-esteem, build up confidence, learn effective strategies, develop assertiveness skills, and the discernment to choose friends that foster and support their personal growth.

If you are interested in finding out more information, please visit my website at

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The Bullying Effect

Posted on August 28, 2010. Filed under: Children and Adolescents, Parenting Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Bullying involves threats, torments or physical harm involving children and adolescents and is often used to intimidate others as a means to gain social status or for appearance purposes.  It is rooted in the mentality that I’m okay and you are not okay.  The negative traumatic impact cyber bullying can have on children is that a child may view themselves as less than desireable and an incapable individual.  Their perception of the world may be that it is not safe and are more susceptible to becoming depressed, angry or feel hopeless.  feel like they do not belong.  Children may feel powerless to defend yourself and believe that they do not belong.  Their self-concept can be wounded and they may feel worthless and have difficulty believing in themselves.  This can be demoralizing to a child not only in the short-term, but in the long-term.

As a parent some common warning signs if your child is a victim of bullying may be: depression, anxious avoidance of settings in which bullying occurs, a greater incident of illness, lower grades, suicidal thoughts and feelings, overly stressed, social withdrawal or isolation, and/or angery outbursts.  If these issues are not addressed the long-term effects for the child may include: reduced occupational opportunities, difficulty trusting others, lingering feelings of anger and bitterness, interpersonal difficulties (fear and avoidance of new social situations), increased tendency to be a loner, perception of self as easy to victimize, overly sensitive, and self-esteem problems.

The common signs to recognize if your child is a bully are: lying at least in part in the home setting, being abusive, narcissistic tendencies, sadistic in nature, destructive, violent acts, perpetrating upon victims, a ring-leader, aggressive behavior, dominant demeanor, treating people as though they are objects either to be used or disguarded, stealing, cheating, instills fear in others, underlined feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, appearing overly confident or cocky, and involved in cliches or gangs.

If you or a loved one has been effected by bullying and are in need of counseling, please feel free to contact me to schedule an appointment today.

For more information you can visit my website at

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The United Parental Front: Building a stable family unit

Posted on July 19, 2010. Filed under: Children and Adolescents, Communication, Marriage, Parenting Tips, Relationship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

There are a variety of parenting styles that exist; however, the primary approaches are: dominant parenting, passive parenting and active parenting.  If each parent has a different approach or are both using ineffective approaches challenges may arise and destabilize the family unit.  The dominant parent tends to create fear in the child as a form of controlling the situation or behavior of the child.  The passive parent tends to be a “push-over” indirectly giving up control and allowing the child to have their own way.  Another more effective approach is called active parenting where the parents are firm, fair and consistent in the rules, boundaries, guidelines, expectations and consequences in the home.  Moreover, these parents allow the child to make choices and learn from mistakes while staying within the limits communicated to the child from the get go.  This empowers not only the parents, but also the children because everyone in the family structure knows what is expected and the consequences are clearly communicated in advance.   This makes it easier for parents to discipline and educate their children effectively, while also teaching personal accountability to the child.  These partners work as a team to create a stable family unit where the child knows the limits in the home.  The perimeters initially are quite constricted at the earlier stages of a child’s development (for example, age 2),  since they are not fully developed yet to make major decision or even minor decisions in some cases.  As the child ages, these perimeters can expand in proportion to the child’s stage of personal development.   This allows the child the space to begin to make choices, decisions and to learn from mistakes.  As they enter into adolescence they will be not only better prepared to make decisions, but will also have been given the clear perimeters to consciously think through choices and the consequences more effectively.  For more information please visit my website at

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