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Holiday times remind us of special significance and meaning. Thanksgiving is an American tradition. It’s about being thankful for all that we have. Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and holidays at this time of year also have special meanings. Of course New Year’s is a celebration of the ending of the year, with all the excitement about ushering in a New Year and making resolutions.

For both the holidays and the New Year, we often set up expectations that are well-intentioned, but not realistic. Our goals may be too high, too general, or too long-term. We may be unable to maintain the commitment required, resulting in feelings of failure and low self-esteem. So, expectations need to be realistic, and a specific plan needs to be developed with short-term goals to maintain motivation. Meaningful rewards will reinforce our behavior, increasing the likelihood of its recurrence.

Holidays also tend to remind us of the past, including good and bad memories. Sibling rivalry issues may resurface at this time. Old family conflicts may also be replayed, resulting in hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and ultimate disappointment as we attempt to achieve approval from the ones we love.

Sad feelings may also be generated around holiday time, as we are reminded of those people who are no longer with us. This natural marker of time, which is often one of reflection, reminds us of the deaths, divorces, and changes which have occurred. The holidays may not be the way they used to be.

Overindulging ourselves and our children are sometimes subtle ways of compensating for these difficult feelings. Excessive gifts, drinking and eating are sometimes ways in which we attempt to “Take care of ourselves.” The ensuing result may feel overwhelming and out-of-control, however. Keep things in perspective. Find balance in life. Expression of our spirituality, paying attention to our needs, exercise, and sharing feelings with trusted people are good ways to begin.

Happy Holidays!

Suicide Awareness and Prevention

September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month

We use this month to raise awareness, reach out to those affected by suicide and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to appropriate treatment services.

This is a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly stigmatized topic. It is important to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention. The feelings of shame and stigma associated with suicide may prevent people from talking openly. However, it is essential to note that having suicidal thoughts does not mean someone is weak or flawed.

While suicide prevention is important to address year-round, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month provides a dedicated time to come together with collective passion and strength around a difficult topic. The truth of the matter is we can all benefit from honest conversations about mental health conditions and suicide. Just one conversation can change a life.


The following provides various data and information about the statistics, warning signs, risk factors, and prevention tips for suicide. It also includes various crisis resources to utilize if needed.

Parents – Back to School

Parents go back to school, like their children.

Parents have to reorganize the house, buy school supplies, buy clothes and uniforms for the kids, buy sport equipment, reorganize schedules, make doctor’s appointments, etc.

Parents have to arrange carpools, take kids to sports practices, games, tutors, homework, bedtimes.

Parents have their own jobs, the house, as well as the children to manage. This can be overwhelming and stressful. And we tend to take care of everyone else first.

Summer Mental Health Tips for Children

It’s summer and…I’M BORED!!!

This is an all too familiar complaint for many parents.  Summer is supposed to be laid-back, less stressful, and full of positive feelings, right?  However, the transition from a structured schedule to the unstructured days of summer often can be challenging.  This is especially true for children with anxiety, ADHD and autism spectrum disorders.  Summer also tends to have a focus on being more social and this can lead to feelings of isolation for some children who struggle with depression or social challenges.

Here are some tips to be mindful of during the summer months:

Parenting on Purpose: Discipline

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not written by a psychologist with superpowers who has never become frustrated at her children. This blog is written by a real mom who recently caught herself yelling “Stop yelling at your sister!” …and the irony had her thinking, “Hmm. I could blog about that.”

When responding to our children’s negative behaviors, from minor infractions to blatant disobedience, it’s best to leave emotion out of it. If we get too frustrated by our children’s behavior or feel personally offended by it, our response is often more emotional than logical. A bit of mindfulness (being in the present moment without thinking about the past or future) can be useful here. When your child throws a tantrum, the focus should be on this one tantrum, not that it is his fifth tantrum over the past 2 weeks or that you have to get dinner ready in 30 minutes. Responding to the moment without the emotional baggage of what has happened or what needs to happen can free up our resources and allow us to approach the situation—and our children—more rationally.