Archive for the ‘Family’ category

Conflict resolution for superheroes

April 28, 2020

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to resolve personal conflicts recently.

The COVID-19 crisis is testing us in many ways – emotionally, physically, and financially. We are more isolated from others and yet closer to the people we live and work with.

Inevitably, personal conflicts will arise and relationships may be strained.

It’s a good time to remind ourselves that we can resolve conflicts peacefully.

When my son was in the third grade, he was a big fan of superhero movies, especially “Iron Man.” I found a free poster for kids about Superhero Conflict Resolution: I Messages.

The poster focuses on “I Messages” and gave us four easy tips to resolve conflict:

  1. Say the person’s name.
  2. Tell how you feel.
  3. Tell why.
  4. Tell what you want.

Here’s is my then 8-year old son’s idea for resolving conflict between Iron Man and Killian from “Iron Man 3:

Iron Man says, “Killian, I feel angry when you burn people up. Please stop burning people. Thank you.” Killian responds, “Iron Man, I’m sorry. I will roast marshmallows for people.”

We may disagree and we may argue, but Hawaii will get through this together.

Have you used “I Messages” to resolve disagreements? What are your tips for resolving conflicts?

Painting a tropical island

April 14, 2020

“I find inspiration in all around me.” – Joni Young

Last year, my husband, 12-year old son, and I followed along with a Bob Ross episode and created our own versions of “Reflections of Calm.” Bob Ross made it look so easy (it wasn’t), but we didn’t give up, and we created three works of art that we are proud of.

In these challenging times, when we’re living with each other 24/7, I wanted give us another chance to express ourselves through art.

Once they agreed, we browsed through YouTube to find an acrylic painting for beginners, something that would remind us of Hawaii’s beauty – a beach, an island, a gorgeous sunset.

We decided on a tropical island painted by artist Joni Young.

I was ready with everything we needed: 11”x14” canvas panels, acrylic paints, and art brushes. I reminded them that we didn’t need to follow the colors and images… we could make it our own.

Here are versions of the tropical beach created by my son B and myself. You’ll notice that B didn’t even put in an island and added only one tree, and I created a white sand beach with a park bench.

Our second attempt at a painting party went much smoother than our first. We knew that the artist would paint much more quickly than we could paint, we were comfortable changing colors and elements, and we all finished and signed our paintings.

Best of all, we spent a creative, enjoyable afternoon that we’ll remember for years.

How can you add more art into your daily life? Where do you find inspiration?


Artwork and tutorials are the property of Joni Young Art and are intended for personal enjoyment and learning of a student. Watch “How to Paint a Tropical Island” on YouTube at or find out more about Joni Young at

You are essential

April 7, 2020

In these challenging times, I am grateful to all of you who provide essential services, goods, and operations. You keep us safe and healthy.

And I am thankful to all of you who are staying at home. Though you may not be able to work right now, I believe that

We may be stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed, but please know this:

You are essential.

You brighten our days and lighten our hearts.

You protect us, heal us, and ease our paths.

You keep us in business and on track.

You make us look good and feel good.

You keep us entertained and informed.

You help us become our best selves.

You are essential.


Take good care of yourself and each other.

How to cope with coronavirus anxiety

March 17, 2020

I hope that you are healthy and well.

Frank Herbert wrote, “What you cannot control, you must accept.” In this time of crisis, here are a few articles to help you cope with the anxiety and stress of the coronavirus.

For you: manage your anxiety. In “7 science-based strategies to cope with coronavirus anxiety” (3/10/20), an article posted on The Conversation, psychologist Jelena Kecmanovic reminds us that feeling anxiety is a normal human reaction, and offers suggestions to deal with our anxiety. One of the hardest science-based suggestions is to tackle the uncertainty paradox, allowing our anxious thoughts to wash over us and “accepting anxiety as an integral part of human experience.” One strategy that you can start right away is to strengthen your self-care. “Get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, practice mindfulness, spend time in nature and employ relaxation techniques when stressed.”

For kids: think like a life-long learner. With Hawaii public schools extending their spring break, think of it as a chance to start a project you are passionate about. You could film your own music video, read a book (or series) you’ve been waiting for, write a time travel story, finish a jigsaw puzzle, or conduct science experiments with household items (and parental supervision). To keep you organized, the Shining Mom blog has cheerful free printables, like a daily planner, reading list, and to-do list.


For parents: help children cope. Rachel Ehmke’s article, “Talking to kids about the coronavirus” on the Child Mind Institute website, offers 8 tips for reassuring kids and helping them work through their anxiety. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, Ehmke says, because “Not talking about something can actually make kids worry more.” One of the first things to do is deal with your own anxiety before having a conversation with a child.

For businesses: keep the doors open. The US Chamber of Commerce offers resources and guidelines for businesses to protect their customers, employees, and partners, and prepare for the impacts of the coronavirus. The Business Preparedness Checklist identifies five action items: prioritize critical operations, create a communication plan, establish possible teleworking policies, prepare for school closings, and coordinate with state and local health officials. There’s also a free Coronavirus Response Toolkit that includes social media graphics and a customizable flyer.

For nonprofits: continue serving clients. Businesses and schools may be closing, but nonprofits still have clients and patients who need their services. In the Network for Good article, “Coronavirus Impacting Your Nonprofit? Here’s What to Do” (3/12/20), Kimberly O’Donnell offers 6 ideas to help nonprofits keep their operations running and their fundraising on track. The most intriguing suggestion is “Dinner with a twist,” a virtual event where gala-dressed volunteers deliver meals to local ticket holders.

For investors: deal with stock market volatility. In the article, “7 Essential Investor Coping Strategies for the Coronavirus Market” (3/13/20), Barnet Sherman and Intelligent Investing remind us that sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing. “The value of your portfolio has already declined,” Barnet writes. “Don’t convert those paper losses to real losses by selling.” The best tip: remember that you cannot pick the market bottom – or the market peak.

“Instead of shaking each other’s hands, we can look each other in the eye and send loving-kindness—wishing each other health, safety and peace,” writes Kelly Barron in an article on

Be healthy and be compassionate to one another.

Have you changed the way that you interact socially? What is your best advice for coping with anxiety during an emergency?

Success-oriented parenting with Dr. Rob Evans and Dr. Michael Thompson

February 25, 2020

Last week, I wrote about “Evidence-Based Parenting” with Dr. Leonard Sax. In the lecture, Dr. Sax identified four issues facing parents– broken bonds across the generations, a culture of disrespect, video games, and social media – and offered concrete actions that parents can take.

A companion lecture on “Rigor, Emotional Intelligence, and the Real Roots of Success” presented by Dr. Rob Evans and Dr. Michael Thompson, was more reflective. According to Dr. Evans and Dr. Thompson, the key dilemma that parents, teachers, and schools face is this: How do we best prepare children for success?

This is a dilemma and not a problem, they emphasize, because problems have solutions, while dilemmas are something you cope with.

Today, schools tend to focus on academic rigor. That means we expect more from children, even the very young. We expect children to know more at earlier ages. This has a side-effect: high performance leads to high stress, and there is a growing concern about our children’s mental health.

The “soft skills” – or “Emotional Intelligence” (EQ) – are equally important.

In the workplace, skills such as the ability to read a room, empathy, and the capacity to adapt and rebound are more important than IQ (intelligence quotient) or GPA (grade point average). In one study, when asked whether college graduates are prepared for the workplace, businesses revealed that they look for leadership experience, communication, and ethical decision-making in job candidates.

After college, there are two things that predict a person’s success and life satisfaction: a connection with a teacher and involvement in school activities. We all need a sense that someone knows us and cares about us.

Reflection: Did you have a life-changing teacher? If yes, how did they inspire you? Consider the idea that the people who motivate and inspire us are not necessarily the most rigorous.

Reflection: What was your most illuminating experience? Was it in a classroom? Consider the fact that not all important learning is school-based. Trust your child’s development and academic journey.

Reflection: What do you treasure about your child? Consider the idea that one of a parent’s jobs is to accept their child’s strengths and weaknesses, and help them to be their best selves.

Reflection: What have you done as a parent that you’re proud of? Consider that idea that parenting styles don’t matter as much as long as you have strong underlying values and are consistent. Consider leading by example, not by sermon.

Dr. Evans suggests that every once in a while, parents take a “grandparent pill” that lets us think and act like a grandparent for a day – one step removed from parenthood, able to see the best in your child, without being as invested in their actions and attitude.

Who inspired you when you were growing up? What lessons helped you to succeed – and did you learn them in school? If you are the parent or family member of a child, how do you envision their success?


Rob Evans and Michael Thompson are clinical psychologists, school consultants, and authors. Rob is the author of three books, including “Family Matters: How Schools Can Cope with The Crisis in Childrearing.” Michael is the author or coauthor of nine books, including “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Lives of Boys.”