Archive for the ‘Family’ category

Just for teens: de-escalating arguments

June 11, 2019

One morning, my husband and 12-year old son were arguing. When I entered the room, they were sitting at opposite sides of the table. I knew I couldn’t sit next to one of them, so I sat at the adjacent side. Then I waited for one of them to explain the quarrel, which involved a negative attitude, being unsocial, and school. As a result, my husband said that he was taking away a school opportunity.

I refused to get caught in the middle, supporting one side. Instead, I agreed that a change could be good, and I suggested that my son do his homework in another room.

My husband was the “complainant” in this argument, so I asked him what would change his mind. He said that he wanted my son to say “I’m sorry” and he wanted to see improvements in my son’s behavior.

Armed with this knowledge, I approached my son. Instead of telling him that he had to say “I’m sorry,” I asked if he really wanted regain the opportunity he lost. Once he said “Yes,” I knew that I could help him.

My son is competitive. When he thinks he is right, he has a hard time letting it go. So I framed these arguments with his father in terms that he could relate to. I told him that when you’re facing a stronger “opponent” and you can’t win, your best strategy is to de-escalate the situation. It doesn’t make sense to win the “battle” (the argument at the time) but lose the war (the opportunity or privilege). The key is to admit that someone else is right, not that you are wrong.

Here are the three strategies I suggested that my teenage son could use to de-escalate arguments:

Distraction. Agree with the facts, and then distract with a related idea. For example, “You’re right. I didn’t really talk to them. They are going on a trip, and I should ask them about it next time.”

Retreat. Agree with the facts, and then make a strategic retreat. You can’t argue with someone if you aren’t there. For example, “You’re right. I should finish that assignment right now. I’ll go my room to get started.”

Redirection. Agree with the facts, and then redirect the conversation to things you could have done or even should have done. By admitting that you are vulnerable, it could make someone feel a little sympathy for you. For example, “You’re right. I did that. I felt uncomfortable that it made me say things I didn’t mean.” Or “You’re right. I didn’t do that. I felt nervous/upset and I should have done that.”

There’s a fourth strategy teens could use, but I didn’t suggest it because it could easily backfire: Humor. Agree with the facts, and then make a small joke about it. It can be really effective or it can make someone even more offended if it’s perceived as sarcasm. For example, “You’re right. I must get it from mom” with a sheepish smile is very different from “You’re right. I must get it from mom” with an eye-roll.

Do you enjoy arguments or are you a peacemaker? How do you respond to conflict?

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Teen depression and suicide

May 14, 2019

In Hawaii, 11.97% of teens (ages 12-17) had a major depressive episode in the past year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2016-2017. Even more alarming, 16.0% of teens (ages 12-17) reported that they seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) data, 2017.

Suicidal thoughts don’t have to be literal, but they’re always dangerous.

That’s one of the first things that I learned at a panel discussion about “Teenage Depression and Suicide” at the 2019 Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival.

Moderated by comedian Pashyn Santos, the discussion talked about how teens (and adults) can respond to sadness or depression. “Happiness is not defined by success or achievement,” Santos reminded us.

Psychiatrist Sonia Patel emphasized that “Suicidal thoughts really mean, ‘I want to feel better’ or ‘I need a break.’” We can help teens recognize their feelings by teaching them to be in the moment and slow down.

Clinical psychologist Sid Hermosura said that mindfulness can help us look at our thoughts, not just feel our thoughts. He emphasized the importance of social connection, relationships, and gratitude.

Associate professor Thao Le said that just as we eat healthy foods to feed our bodies, our thoughts are a form of “mental food.” For every negative thought we have, we need to bring up five positive thoughts to balance it!

Interfaith minster Rev. Bodhi Be challenged teens to identify their “core wound,” the hole that they are trying to fill. When we find out what we love, we can fill that hole and “forget about ourselves” by serving others.

Le shared a mindfulness practice that can help us feel compassion and strengthen our relationships with others. Think of a person (or yourself) and wish them well by saying, “May you be happy, peaceful, and free from suffering.”

What are your happiness tips? Who can you reach out to when you feel sad or depressed?

A better work-life balance

May 7, 2019

Working for a growing nonprofit, I struggle with balancing the things I should do, but can’t do within a “normal” workday; and taking work home. Sometimes it means that my work-life balance is more work than home, and that’s okay – but only if it’s an occasional thing. It’s not okay if it becomes the new normal.

Taking work home is easier than ever because technology and social media are 24/7. It has an even greater impact on millennials, because this is the world they grew up in.

So I was really interested to attend a panel discussion about “Millennial Work/Life Balance” at the Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival last weekend.

Moderated by comedian Pashyn Santos, the discussion centered on how panelists “escape” from social media, their favorite “failure” story, and some of the initiatives that companies are doing to create a better work-life balance.

Psychiatrist Sonia Patel shared that she is no longer on social media at all. She stressed the importance of having structure outside of social media, like getting enough sleep and healthy meals. We have to learn to be advocates for ourselves and our time.

Clinical psychologist Jeff Stern suggested that we use social media as a reward after completing a task or achievement, rather than using it as an escape or avoidance. We need to learn to manage our time, or companies will try to manage it for us. He wondered if companies will start requiring employees to leave their phones at the door.

Stern mentioned an intriguing idea: some companies are offering a pre-cation, a vacation before the first day of work as a way to give employees breathing space before starting a new job.

Jade Snow of Jade Snow Media admitted that “I only realized my [social media] addiction when I experienced burnout and reminded us that we need to set healthy boundaries. She said that we need to appreciate being with people in the moment, and then be more intentional about the time we spend on social media. We should practice gratitude and surround ourselves with people who are like-minded.

Snow speculated that perhaps we are not looking for a work-life balance, but a work-life integration. The goal is to incorporate healthy practices into our daily lives.

KHON2 TV personality Mikey Moniz stated that we need to stop comparing ourselves with who we think we should be. “Have a strong group of friends,” he said. “You become who you surround yourself with.” Moniz added that when going out to eat, he and his friends are trying something new: they put their cell phones in the middle of the table, and the first person who touches their phone has to pay the bill.

Is social media a “reward” or an “escape” for you? Do you think about work at home and think about home at work?

Three ways to celebrate books, music, Star Wars, and comics

April 30, 2019

This Saturday, May 4, fans of books, music, Star Wars, and comic books can indulge in a trio of celebrations.

May 4th (and 5th) is the Hawaii Book and Music Festival. This free celebration of books and music is fun for people of all ages, backgrounds and tastes. In addition to author talks, book swaps, keiki entertainment, storytimes, and musical performances, there are presentations and panel discussions about Hawaiian culture, Humanities/Breaking News, and Wellness.

May 4th is also Star Wars Day, “May the Fourth Be With You”. “May the 4th be with you.” What started as pun shared by fans has become a full-fledged Star Wars holiday: Star Wars Day, a special once-a-year celebration of the galaxy far, far away. Have a fan-tastic day by dressing up as your favorite Star Wars character, indulging in “Yoda Soda” with “Wookie Cookies,” and watching your favorite episode or reading your favorite Star Wars book.

And May 4th is Free Comic Book Day, the biggest celebration of comic books and a great time to discover new types of comics! It’s the perfect time to read new comics, get kids involved in reading, and have fun as a community. This year, there are 51 comics to choose from, including titles from Minecraft & Disney’s The Incredibles, Little Lulu, Bob’s Burgers, The Amazing Spider-Man, My Hero Academia, Star Wars Adventures, and more. Tag your photos #FCBD19 to help get Free Comic Book Day trending.

Here’s a list of participating public libraries:

  • Oahu – Aiea, Aina Haina, Hawaii Kai, Kailua, Kalihi-Palama, Kapolei, Manoa, McCully-Moiliili, Mililani, Nanakuli, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Wahiawa, Waikiki-Kapahulu, Waimanalo, and Waipahu. At select Oahu libraries, costumed characters from the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Imperial Legion, Rebel Legion Hawaii, and Costumers Guild of Hawaii will be appearing. Check your local library for appearance times.
  • Hawaii Island – Hilo, Kailua-Kona, and Thelma Parker. At the Hilo Public Library, 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm, kids can make their own comic book and playing card.
  • Kauai – Hanapepe and Princeville.
  • Lanai – Visit the Lanai Public & School Library’s booth at the Saturday Market (front of Cafe 565) from 8-11 a.m.
  • Maui – KahuluiKiheiLahaina, and Makawao. At the Kihei Public Library, 10 am to 12:30 pm, meet comic book artist and author of Draw-a-Saurus James Silvani.

I plan to pick up a free comic book and volunteer at the Book and Music Festival (first time!), so maybe I’ll see you this weekend. Which celebrations will you choose?

Hope, help, and healing to prevent suicide

April 16, 2019

Anyone can be at risk for suicide. We all have sources of strength. And it’s strong to get help.

These messages of hope, help, and healing are what I took away from the Prevent Suicide Hawai‘i Statewide Conference last week, April 11-12, 2019.

Organized by the Prevent Suicide Hawai‘i Taskforce (PSHTF), the Conference was sponsored by organizations such as EMS and Injury Prevention System Branch of the Hawai‘i State Department of Health, the Department of Psychiatry under the John A. Burns School of Medicine, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Hawai‘i Chapter.

I work for a local mental health nonprofit, and I was fortunate to be a resource table volunteer. During the Conference, I spoke with passionate advocates, educators, and service providers. I learned about the resources that are available for people in crisis. And I was inspired by West Oahu and neighbor island youth who are committed to prevent suicide in their schools and communities.

The Conference opened with a keynote by Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Moutier emphasized that the stigma of mental distress is going down and talk saves lives – for those at risk and for survivors of suicide loss. “Everyone struggles,” she stated. “It’s strong to get help.”

There were five breakout sessions and five different “tracks,” covering Hope (primary prevention), Help (intervention and treatment), Healing (postvention and survivor supports), Special Topics and Populations (Micronesian, Military, Filipino, and LGBTQ populations), and Culture (Hawaii and Pacific Islands).

For me, the most moving point came at the Fight For Each Other (F4EO) break-out session. Speakers for the F4EO Project share how suicide affects the lives of military members, their friends, family, and co-workers. Col. Robert Swanson shared his personal story of healing and recovery. “It always gets better – but only if you stick around,” he asserted.

The most impressive part of the Conference was the Youth Leadership Council. These motivated youth shared some of the results of their training, including identifying sources of strengths – such as family support, positive friends, and healthy activities. Youth facilitator Deborah Goebert, DrPH summed it up when she said, “Go out and inspire each other.”

The Conference closed with an address by Lieutenant Governor Dr. Josh Green, who shared his personal story as a survivor of suicide loss. “It took us years to realize we shouldn’t blame ourselves for missing the signs,” he revealed. Dr. Green concluded with words of encouragement: “We have an incredible capacity to help each other.”

Suicide Prevention Resources:

  • ANYONE in crisis can call the 24-hour National the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Veterans, call 800-273-TALK (8255) and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line or text to 838255.
  • Teens in Hawaii can text ALOHA to 741741or call 832-3100 for 24-hour crisis support.

Kindness starts with one

February 12, 2019

I’ve been immersing myself in happiness over the past few months, learning from the Greater Good Science Center, and figuring out how to make happiness practices part of everyday life.

We can become happier in many different ways, from encouraging empathy and nurturing friendships to fostering gratitude and cultivating a sense of awe. But one of the simplest ways to become happier and spread happiness is to be kind.

Being kind makes us happy, and being happy makes us kind.

Kindness is easy, and it starts with ONE. One person. One cup of coffee, one compliment, one “I love you,” one note-to-self.

On February 17, 2019, we’re celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Day, and it starts with YOU. You can be the one to write a positive note at school or work, thank someone who isn’t usually acknowledged, or volunteer to do a five-minute favor. No one else has to know about it. But you’ll know.

Kindness starts with one, but let’s aim for five. Studies have shown that doing five acts of kindness in one day can make you happier than doing single acts of kindness spread out over time.

Being kind can have a lasting impact, too. You can get a happiness boost by remembering a time when you were kind or helpful or generous… or by remembering a time when someone was kind to you.

I tried a happiness practice called “Three Good Things,” in which you write down three good things that happen to you each day. The goal is to focus on positive thoughts and feelings. I found that it really helped to put my day in perspective, and lessen any worry or stress I felt.

I’m starting to take it a step further and pay attention to whether good things happen to me (like receiving a compliment) or because of me (like giving a compliment).

What will you do on Random Acts of Kindness Day? How will you spread kindness?

Doing less or more on vacation

January 15, 2019

There’s truth in what Lucille Ball said: “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.”

It may be obvious to you, but recently it struck me that the busier I am, the more I get done.

Over the past few months, I have been overwhelmed, stressed, and a little ragged when I let myself think of all the things I need to do. Somehow the urgent things get done, and I move on down the list.

Then I took a vacation. Except for checking email every once in a while (so I didn’t face an overflowing inbox when I got back to work), most of the “busy work” halted.

I took time to sleep in, to read, to relax. But I also had plans, places to go and things to do.

On the first and last days of my vacation, we took two family day-trips – places we wanted to take our son for the first time. But with so much time, we couldn’t stir ourselves to take the second trip sooner.

Between those family days, I worked only on projects that I wanted to do. I couldn’t justify doing them when there were more urgent projects, but I enjoyed doing them. There were other things I wanted to do, and had the time to do them, but not the motivation.

Though my vacation is over, here are three things I could have done to make sure I got more done:

* Designate work times. I could have aside two days, or three mornings, as work days. Whether it’s checking work email, preparing taxes, doing yardwork, or cleaning the house, making that mental shift to “work” can help focus attention and set boundaries for the rest of the vacation.

* Set imaginary deadlines. My default was “I’ll do it over my vacation,” but that’s not specific enough. I should have set a date for when something needed to be completed – even if it was an arbitrary date.

* Tell someone about it. Better yet, I should have told someone what I wanted to accomplish, and when, so that I felt some pressure or accountability to actually follow through.

Now I have some ideas for staying on task during my next vacation.

What is your ideal vacation? Are your vacations all-leisure or a combination of work and play?