Category Archives: Videos

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Raising Cultural Aware Kids

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St. Louis and Ferguson, Missouri have been thrust into the national limelight. Social dialogue regarding racial differences and cultural stereotypes is being discussed on TV and in the classroom. Is it, however, being discussed in your home? Dr. Hyken discusses this and, also, how to raise culturally aware kids in the Fox News Interview.

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Conversations about College

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I started talking to my kids about their college education about a week after they were born. OK, that is a bit of exaggeration, but it is not too far from the truth. Education is important to any new parent, and I spent my 30s having children and pursuing graduate studies. During that decade of my life, my own education and my children’s future consumed my thoughts.


Parents have a huge influence on their kids, and children will adopt family ideals if Mom and Dad share their beliefs. Therefore, I recommend that college conversations begin when the little one enters pre-school. The purpose of these higher education dialogues, however, should not be about where to attend; rather, parents should share their college experiences, talk about the importance of education, and explain how some careers—such as being a doctor or a teacher—require many years of school. Setting the stage for lifelong learning begins in the early years.

Serious conversations about attending college should start during seventh and eighth grade. In fact, it is best to prepare for life after high school before the first high-school bell rings. Talk with your eager adolescent about choosing college preparatory classes, participating in community service and developing personal talents. With the right encouragement, a child could easily develop a passion that guides him to future educational and life goals.

In ninth grade, the college indoctrination process truly begins. Students take standardized tests, complete interest inventories, and participate in initial meetings with their guidance counselor. These exploratory steps pave the way to junior year when students and families should become motivated about researching their options.

There are more than 9,000 colleges and universities, and even the most organized student will benefit from parental assistance. Don’t, however, be the over-involved ‘helicopter’ mom who hovers over every move or the ‘talent-scout’ dad who tries to brand their teenager and broker the best deal. It’s more important to ask your maturing child the right questions, listen, and be supportive.

Size truly matters. More relationally-oriented individuals tend to prefer the intimate classroom environment of a smaller campus. These schools are more person-centered and offer better opportunities to interact with professors. On the other hand, seniors looking to break out of the high-school fish bowl or wanting to stay under the radar should consider big school opportunities. Larger institutions also offer a wider range of classes, a variety of housing options, and big-time sports.

Location is the next topic to tackle. A school’s setting can have a significant impact on the college experience. Some may want to be close to home, but others may prefer to be on a mountain, near a beach, or in a major metropolis. College is both an education and a journey; it is a great time to push beyond one’s comfort zone and live in your dream location. And no matter where the school is, a student can always pack their books and transfer credits to a new university if things don’t work out.

Some may allow their course of study to drive their college search. This is an important consideration, but the majority of college students switch degree programs multiple times prior to graduation. Also, most college-bound high school seniors don’t have enough experience or information to be absolutely positive about what they want to study. It is important a university has the proposed area of interest, but attending the most prestigious program will not ensure success or happiness.

Watching your child mature and make major decisions can be challenging for any parent. College is a huge step toward adult independence, and it can be difficult for mom or dad to recognize the line between interference and support. Trust you have a raised an intelligent individual who makes good decisions and celebrate this exciting life transition.

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Confessions of a Shopaholic

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What is a shopaholic? While some of us may enjoy the thrill of an occasional splurge or spending more than we bargained for during a big sale–that doesn’t make you a shopaholic. But that rush or feeling you get when you make a good purchase is what some shopaholics describe as a retail high, which in turn will lead a compulsive shopper to want to buy more.  Shopaholics are individuals who can’t control spending and have extended periods of uncontrolled spending sprees and impulse buys.


Is being a shopaholic an addiction? It is actually considered an impulse control disorder.  One purchase leads to another and the thrill of buying often outweighs consideration of the consequences that follow. And it does lead to addictive like feeling. When a shopaholic makes the purchase, the brain gets flooded with dopamine, the same chemical that the brain releases during drug use. Then, after the shopping high, the buyer crashes and feels depressed /distressed. The cycle starts all over–again.

Signs you may be a Shopaholic?

Check your closet.  Do you have many unopened items?
I am not talking about the sweater your aunt gave you last holiday season, but about items you selected on your own that are unopened or still have their tags attached. You may have even forgotten about some of these possessions – that’s a problem.

You often purchase things you don’t need or didn’t plan to buy.
You are easily tempted by items that you can do without like that tenth iPod case.  Additionally, you may be particularly vulnerable to compulsive buying if you have a specific materialistic “obsession,” like shoes or designer handbags. Just because splurges tend to stick to one category doesn’t make them any more rational.

A bad mood sparks an urge to shop.
Compulsive shopping is an attempt to fill an emotional void, like loneliness, lack of control, or lack of self-confidence. Shopaholics also report feelings of being “out of sorts” if they haven’t had their shopping fix. So, if you tend to shop after a bad day or shop to pick up your mood, you may have a problem.

Tips to avoid being a Shopaholic!

Identify triggers.

Take note of what’s likely to send you off to the nearest department store . When these feelings overcome you, resist shopping at all costs and find a healthier way to work it out. 

Carry only enough cash to buy what you need.

Leave your debit and credit cards at home. Create a shopping list with estimated costs, and stick to it when you’re at the store. And stay out of your favorite store if you can’t resist the merchandise.

Ask for help. 

If you’re still struggling with compulsive spending, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can start with self-help books or by asking a friend or family member to help keep you in check, but it might also be wise to enlist professional help. Consider therapy, resources such as Debtors Anonymous and a therapist who specializes in OCD and addiction.

Shopaholics are all types. 

Compulsive shopping does not only affect women, but it is now believed to affect both genders almost equally. It is blind to income, race and age, and compulsive shopping negatively affects more than one out of every 20 Americans.


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Getting Kids to Listen

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Parents magazine polled moms and dads about their toughest discipline challenge, and the hands-down winner was “My kid doesn’t listen to me.”

Getting kids to listen…and doing so the first time…is an art. And like any art, it takes practice. We also know that learning how to listen does not happen by chance. You are your child’s best communication instructor, and it’s never too early–or too late–to improve your child’s listening habits.

First, it is important to understand that it is okay if your child does not occasionally listen. If, however, your son or daughter does not listen on a regular basis or is continually disrespectful, your approach may be an incorrect one. There are, in fact, a couple of communication processes that are best to avoid.

  • Avoid aggressive communication. As a parent it can be easy to get frustrated but a loud “attacking” tone places kids of any age on the defensive and can create an anxious child or one who thinks it is acceptable to yell.
  • Avoid a passive tone. While speaking quietly can get a child to listen, being overly passive allows your kids to walk all over you . . . which sometimes results in arguing.

For many, listening skills don’t come naturally . . . it often takes a lot of work. Here are some tips.

  1. Model good listening skills – Show your kids what you expect. Listen to your spouse, pay attention to your friend’s comments, and, most importantly listen to your children. Teach your kids to look others in the eye by asking them to do so. For the little ones, this can mean getting down to eye level when having a serious conversation.
  2. Don’t shout from across the house. When an important subject needs to be discussed or even something simple needs to be done, make sure the environment is distraction free. Ask kids to pause the TV, take a short break from their video game, look up from the homework, etc. If kids are doing something, it is natural to tune-out parents.
  3. Be reliable. “I will bring home dessert tonight”, “you can watch that show tomorrow,” or “I won’t be long” seem like innocent promises but can erode trust and the desire to listen if these expectations are unfulfilled. Say what you mean and do what you say.
  4. Tell don’t ask. If you phrase your want as a request or a question, your child can say no. Even a child that is not oppositional may respond negatively because your question has provided the opportunity to do so. Don’t ask your child to clean his room; rather, tell him to do so. And even better tie a positive outcome to the request. When your room is clean, you can play a video game.

They way you ask will greatly influence how well your child listens to you. It will not, however, produce an “overly” compliant child, but that should not be your parenting goal. Proper communication teaches your child to be reasonable, thoughtful, and well connected to the family. And if you have done all of the above and your child still NEVER listens—might be time for a hearing test.

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Learning Disabilities: Trust Your Instincts

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St. Louis truly is a unique educational marketplace. There are more private schools in St. Louis than most any other city in the United States. Because many of these institutions have small classes and a unique educational niche, students who learn differently thrive in our city. In fact, many of these children and teenagers enroll in honors-level curriculums, take advanced placement classes, or attend the city’s best preparatory schools.

One can have a superior IQ yet still have cognitive challenges. In fact, being learning disabled (LD) does not directly correlate with having a lack of intelligence or low motivation. However, LD students do manage information differently because they have a neurologically based processing challenge that interferes with the ability to master specific concepts when taught in a traditional manner.

Learning differences can take on multiple forms. Some students have difficulties getting content into the brain. These children struggle with information integration such as the ability to organize, sequence, retrieve or infer meaning. Other students have difficulty getting information out of the brain. These children struggle with fine motor skills (handwriting), organizing thoughts on paper, or finding the right words to express ideas.

Knowledge acquisition is unique for each child and difficulties can surface at any age. There are, however, some specific signs that may indicate your child learns differently. During the pre-school years, look for language complications such as acquisition difficulties or word-pronunciation problems. And some young students may have struggles with coordination and finger use, finding simplistic tasking unusually frustrating. If any area of development feels delayed, check with a teacher to determine if an early intervention is needed.

As children enter the elementary years, subject-area concerns often become more prominent. LD students may be able to master many skills but have difficulty grasping certain concepts. Frequent reading errors, constant misspellings, or atypical troubles with basic math computations can be markers of a learning issue. Additionally, some may experience social struggles and communication problems, which also impact knowledge acquisition.

Further confusing the identification of LD students is that these problems can go unnoticed during the elementary years because these intelligent kids often develop self-compensating strategies for their learning deficits. Additionally, grade school teachers are particularly talented at supporting individuals of all abilities. Maturing students, however, face new challenges as they juggle the demands of a busier scholastic schedule, attempt more demanding academic tasks and negotiate increased independence. Grades may decline and unknown learning issues can surface during the high school years.

It can, however, be difficult to sort out typical teen distraction from true learning issues. Some older students struggle with classroom attention, avoid homework, and fail literature tests because they have no desire to read Jane Austin. Others, unfortunately, put forth appropriate or even excessive effort, but still experience low grades. Review homework and look for unusual sequencing, overly sloppy work or excessively long completion times. Also, check on your child’s emotional state. School anxiety or a confidence crisis often can be the result of an unknown learning issue.

Trust your parental instincts and pursue assistance if you think there is a problem. Start by talking to your child’s teachers. Next, consult with your pediatrician and rule out any medical concerns. Finally, and perhaps most important, work with a qualified educational specialist who will review academic records, interview the family and consult with the school. These professionals also can administer a comprehensive set of intelligence tests and academic assessments to develop a detailed learning profile and determine if a problem exists.

It can be upsetting for a parent to consider the possibility that their child may learn differently. It is, however, important for families to own the problem, understand how their child thinks and learns, and seek the services they need. Don’t adapt a wait-and-see approach; attack the problem. With intervention, advocacy and support, LD students succeed in school, college and life.

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Why Losing Can Be Good for Kids

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Participation trophies are almost a given in today’s youth sports as children are constantly being assured that they are winners. Interestingly, trophies were once a rare thing. In the 1960s, however, awards began being mass-produced and marketed to teachers, coaches, and sporting-goods stores. Trophy and award sales are now an estimated $3 billion-a-year industry and many organized sport leagues spend more than 12 percent of their budget on these trinkets.

Awards are a good thing and a powerful motivator. Kids respond positively to praise, and they enjoy hearing that they’re talented, smart, and so on. Being the best and getting the recognition from parents and peers creates a huge since of pride. Winning is good and striving to be the best is even better.

Nonstop recognition, however, does not inspire children to succeed, and it can even cause some to underachieve. If all a child must to do is show up to get a trophy, some will do just that. They will not try to improve or learn problem-solving skills to become better.

Then, once a child does experience that first major failure, it can be crushing to their self-esteem. After all, they have been told they have special talents—given a trophy. That first difficulty or loss can cause a child to feel demoralized.  Some will choose to work harder, but others may give up.

Furthermore, by the age 4 or 5, children aren’t fooled by trophies. Those who outperform know it and so do their team mates. Kids are surprisingly accurate in identifying who excels and who struggles.

Additionally, young kids know when they, themselves, are talented. If they are given an award for something they don’t do well, it clashes with their sense of ability and can be confusing. As kids get older, most start to view those “special” awards as something that just goes on the shelf.

Being competitive is part of our culture; it’s in our blood.  Kids are always going to compete for something–win the game, get the best grade, who lost the most teeth. A parent’s, coach’s, and teacher’s job is to help kids see that progress over time is more important than a particular win or loss. Kids need to understand that setbacks are temporary and losing is a brief interruption between victories.


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Are you a Procrastinator?

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What is Procrastination?

Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference of more urgent tasks or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable things.

Why Do People Procrastinate?

People procrastinate for different reasons, but, for the most part, there are three basic types of procrastinators.

  • Thrill Seekers – Those who wait until the last minute so they can get that euphoric rush that goes with completing the job right before the deadline.
  • Avoiders – Those who avoid tasks due to fear of failure or due to a fear of success. In either case, these individuals would rather have others believe they lack effort than lack ability.
  • Decisional Procrastinators – Those who choose to avoid making decisions so they can be absolved of the responsibility or the outcome of an event.

What are the costs of being a procrastinator?

  • For yourself, procrastination causes stress and anxiety. This physiological response can compromise the immune system and make one more susceptible to colds, the flu, and gastrointestinal problems.
  • For the spouse of a procrastinator, resentment often builds because it shifts many of life’s responsibilities onto to them.
  • For the child of a procrastinator, a procrastinating parent models bad work habits and may create a procrastinating child.

Tips to Avoid Procrastination.

  • Make a good to do list– Focus on items you typically avoid and then set a deadline to do those evasive tasks.
  • Break down big tasks into little ones – Devote short chunks of time to a big project. Once you make some progress, the momentum builds and most will want to keep moving forward.
  • Choose appropriate surroundings -Make sure your work environment works for you and not against you.  Placing yourself in situations where you don’t get much done such as “studying” in bed or working at a café can actually be a method of avoiding work.
  • Stop checking your email, Facebook, Youtube, etc. – Digital distractions are the arch enemy of the procrastinator. It is too easy to get sucked in to the electronic vortex and waste hours of valuable time.

Procrastination is one of the most sure-fire methods to avoid success in life. Procrastinators sabotage themselves by placing obstacles in their own path and also choosing paths that hurt their performance. Procrastinators can, however, change their behavior but doing so consumes a lot of psychic energy. Commit to change and find a therapist or life coach if you can’t do it on your own.

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College Drinking

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There is a difference between knowing that your teen is drinking alcohol at college and allowing your child to drink at home. Parents should never endorse alcohol use when their children are under the legal drinking age. In essence, when you say it is okay to use, you are also encouraging your son to break the law. Furthermore, if you allow drinking in your house, you are breaking the law and can be arrested for social hosting.

It is, however, reasonable to assume that your student is going to continue to engage in his social life, and parents should have a discussion about alcohol use. Choose a mutually agreeable time to engage in a conversation about summer expectations. Don’t ambush your teen, rather set a time and let him know you want to speak about drinking and your parental thoughts.

The most important rule is to make sure your college student knows it is never acceptable to drink and drive. Your child should understand that he can always call for a ride without parental judgment. Next, discuss summer work expectations. The best way to minimize alcohol use is to make sure your student has a busy summer schedule. This could include working, volunteering, or going to summer school. Lastly, discuss daily expectations including what time your teen should be home at night and what time he must rise in the morning.

Your son is maturing, and he should be open to discussing expectations. Listen to his perspective but also remember that you are the parent. Keep in mind that as the summer ends, the effects of excessive alcohol use can endure for many years. Lastly, if you feel your college student is drinking excessively, seek professional assistance.

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Moms with ADHD

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If you have a child with ADHD, there is a 60 percent chance that either you or your mate also has ADHD.

What is the difference between childhood ADHD and adult ADHD? Children with ADHD generally have problems paying attention or concentrating, can’t seem to follow directions and are easily frustrated with everyday tasks. Some will move constantly and act impulsively not stopping to think before they act. Adults with ADHD have some slightly different or additional symptoms which often include issues with time management, organizational skills, and goal setting.

Life is extra difficult when you’re a parent with ADHD. Being a mom, in general, is a hard job, whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or a busy professional trying to balance a career, kids and everything else. Yes, it is true that in recent years, men have been more hands-on with household and childcare responsibilities; the bulk of the work still, however, lands on the woman. Balancing a slew of commitments can get overwhelming for anyone, let alone a person with ADHD.

It can be difficult to identify adult ADHD because many women who have ADHD also have depression, anxiety or some other co-occurring condition often as a result of behaviors associated with their undiagnosed ADHD. You feel bad because you can’t focus or organize life. Further, when treating those other mood issues one does start to feel better, but the ADHD symptoms are still present.

ADHD must be addressed as a family issue when the mother has ADHD. Most mothers are so used to tending to the needs of others that they often overlook their own needs. It can be difficult for many women to admit that they can’t do it all. Accept your attention challenges and go with it.

Here are a few tips to manage your ADHD, but, in reality, they are good for any parent, not just attentionally challenged ones.

  1. Create Structure –Structure is the key for calming the sensation of being overwhelmed. Without it, inertia can set in, leading to even more stress over time. When creating a structured schedule, record everything you need to do each day and make sure to block free time, too.
  2. Take a Step BackReassess your situation and options. Can you switch your work schedule to better accommodate your life obligations? Do you need to hire some help…..a housekeeper, professional organizer, or baby sitter. Don’t think of this as a luxury; rather, as an accommodation so that you can manage your schedule without falling apart – which could really be expensive.
  3. Set Limitssay ‘no’ to the things that are not a good use of your time, or things that do not make you happy. Saying no can feel uncomfortable, especially if you’re a people-pleaser. Determine which activities provide energy and which drain you before agreeing to anything.
  4. Revise Your Expectations Avoid setting the bar too high by comparing yourself to others. Don’t expect your home to look like your neighbor’s or sister’s. Give yourself some slack. Create a happy environment not a perfect one.

Having ADHD doesn’t make you a bad mother! On the contrary, having ADHD gives you the ability to empathize with your children, come up with creative solutions for problems, and create a loving, nurturing and exciting home for you and your family. Learn to appreciate the gifts and minimize the weaknesses of ADHD.

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Sibling Conflict

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A new University of Missouri research study shows that sibling conflict can lead to depression and anxiety. Now, this research is not saying the occasional argument or disagreement is a problem; rather, this study is highlighting that on-going, persistent fighting can have long lasting effects on an individual’s mental health.

It is also worth noting that conflict is different from sibling rivalry. Rivalry is about “one upping” the other sibling, which in some cases can actually be a positive motivating factor. Healthy competition can push kids to be better.

There are two main types of conflict that can have long lasting emotional impact. The effects can last into adolescence and adulthood.

  1. Violations of personal space and property can cause one to be overly anxious if these intrusions are consistent. This is the worry associated with somebody entering your room or using your personal things.
  2. Continual conflicts over issues of equality and fairness can also lead to depression. A child that feels like they are continually treated unfairly will often suffer low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness.

Common sense tells us that continual conflict is detrimental; this study reports findings that most of us already know. The real implication or benefit of the research is studying how we should respond to these types of sibling disputes. It is a parent’s natural instinct to want to be the arbitrator of the argument. This is the wrong way to solve these dilemmas.

Tips to assist with avoiding conflict

  1. Set specific household rules—knock before entering a room, create chore calendars, have predetermined times for video games, etc. Parents should discuss among themselves the continual conflict triggers they see among their kids and create specific rules to avoid those problems.
  2. Don’t be a referee. Things will happen that are not covered by the household rules. When conflicts arise, tell your children they need to walk away from the situation and provide an immediate consequence such as no video games tonight, both go to your room. etc. Don’t buy into the conflict because it could force you to take sides.
  3. Defuse the jealousy. A child who feels like he is treated unfairly may often be jealous of the other sibling. Redirect your child’s jealousy concerns by acknowledging it is normal to occasionally be jealous but also highlight something they do well. This will make the child feel valued and can ultimately increase self-esteem.
  4. Model appropriate behavior. Parents are role models. Be supportive of your spouse, solve appropriate disagreements in front of your children so they learn how to resolve conflict.

The bottom line here is to pay attention to your kids. Rivalry, conflict, jealousy, etc. are part of normal family life. Your parental job is to help your children to manage their feelings and learn how to function. Send the message that we are family and we help each other. If the problem becomes too much to handle and the conflicts become overly intense, seek professional help to avoid long term consequences. Home should always be a safe place to work things out.