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Mindfulness is a state of being aware. It is a process of intentionally observing our surroundings in the moment, with engaged awareness and free of judgment. Mindfulness is not a passive state and may require practice to be in the moment. Left to itself the mind wanders through all kinds of thoughts — including thoughts expressing anger, craving, depression, revenge, self-pity, etc. As we indulge in these kinds of thoughts we reinforce those emotions in our hearts and cause ourselves to suffer. By purposefully directing our awareness away from such thoughts and towards some “anchor” we decrease their effect on our lives and we create instead a space of freedom where calmness and contentment can grow.

downloadAs a parent, being mindful allows us to choose a skillful response instead of just reacting. Being mindful can help a child regulate his/her emotions, be more focused, and to make better decisions. Practicing mindfulness with your child is a great way to spend time to together and to teach your child to be aware of their experience and to recognize when their attention has wandered. Why not get your toolbox of ideas ready? Here are some ideas to get you started.


Tool #1 Focus on your body: Do a body scan. Wiggle your toes. Let your arms and legs be like spaghetti. Feel your breath go in and out. Depending on the age of the child, you might say, “Pretend your belly is a balloon and watch it expand. Then blow out a noisy breath through the lips. How does that feel?” You might use a breathing buddy. Put a stuffed animal on their belly and watch the rise and fall of their buddy.

Tool #2 Focus on an object. What is the color? Can you touch it? Is it cold? If you have a smooth pebble or marble, feel the coolness. Then hold it in your hand a few minutes. Notice the change in temperature. If you are eating, focus on the food. Is it cold or hot? Is it sweet?

Tool # 3 Focus on sounds. Ask your child what sounds he/she can hear? Is the clock ticking? Can you hear the wind? Use a bell or sound on your phone or just tap lightly on the table. Ask the child to listen and let you know when the sound stops.

Tool #4 Focus on love. Ask your child to name all the people who love them. Mommy, Daddy, brother, sister, grandparent, dog or cat. You can also think of things the child loves about others. What do you like about your friends? Ask what you can do to be kind to the ones who love you.

If you are a parent, then you most likely have dealt with a some challenging behaviors.  Some parents seem to have more difficulty than otherimages.jpgrs.  The difference is not always luck.  Parents can do specific things that can make problem behaviors worse, keep them the same, or make them decrease.

As a parent, our ultimate goal is to have children who routinely exercise self-control and acceptable behaviors.  It is best to assume that a proactive “teaching” approach will keep yourself calm and avoid power struggles with your child.

  • Rule # 1: Never argue with your child!
  • Before the behavior occurs, discuss choices your child can make about how to act.  Anticipate problems and discuss ways of solving conflicts, how to handle frustrations, and how to express their wants and desires appropriately.
  • Encourage your child to use their words in order to get their wishes and feelings known. “You are too close to me.” – rather than pushing; “Stay out of my backpack.” – rather than hitting; “I really want to go swimming.” – rather than demanding, begging, and pleading.
  • Acknowledge appropriate behavior and reward it intermittently.
  • Remind your child of the reason behind any rule or consequence to a behavior at the time the rule is being enforced. Have them repeat the reason for having the rule, back to you.  “Kicking can hurt someone.” “Kicking doesn’t solve the problem.”  Brainstorm other ways to deal with the problem.
  • Teach your child how to make and keep friends. (smiling, talking, listening, cooperative play, turn taking, how to start a conversation, interactive play, sharing…)
  • Teach problem solving and resolution skills. (role play with puppets, books)
  • Be empathetic to your child’s problems and frustrations. Help them process ways to deal with disappointment, anger, irritation, and sadness.
  • Seek to discover the cause of the behavior. You will gain insight that will make you more empathetic to their problems.

Diane Reed, LPCC

practiceIt seems to me that often times we limit ourselves by saying something to the effect of, “I am just not good at that.” This probably starts early in life to protect us from the vulnerability of failing. It, however, also blocks us from success. Natural talent is not the only way to achieve greatness or success.

The late Steve Jobs–a highly regarded innovator and founder of Apple Computers–was also nearly as famous for his ability to present and market. His keynote speeches for Apple became famous and often imitated. But, his public speaking skills were not always superb. A video of an interview he gave early in his career was uncovered decades later. He is visibly nervous and even verbalizes his fear of becoming sick. This is not the same Steve Jobs who entertained while unveiling his most recent product. So what gives?

Jobs put in hours and hours of practice. He honed and developed his presentation skills spending hundreds of hours on one presentation.

Dr. K. Anders Ericsonn published a research study that looked into this idea of hard work and practice. He said excellence depends on more than mere practice but deliberative practice. His definition of this is, “improving the skills you have and extending the reach and range of those skills.” So Dr. Ericsonn takes into account natural talent but suggests excellence does not rest there.

So, when we consider our personal well being are we focusing daily on improving our  skills and extending them? In marriage, hone the abilities and strengths so that they cover a number of aspects in relationships. Parent in a way that sees possibility to attain skills rather than give up on that possibility.

The takeaway is this: because you view yourself as, “just not good” at something now, does not mean you can’t be proficient in that area. If you have skills in an area, they can always be improved.


Justin P. Lewis, MA, LMFT



Our community remains aware of tragedy because of the events on December 1st, 1997. We experienced a shooting at Heath High School. Lives were changed forever on that day. Since the Heath shooting there has been much healing, though it was not thought possible at that time. In light of the recent events that took place in Connecticut at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, I want to offer a few suggestions to assist our community. We want to promote healing while avoiding further traumatization of our children.

Life can be compared to a huge heavy suitcase. It can be so heavy that a little child cannot carry it.  Children cope much better when we put what they can carry in a smaller suit case that they can master. We might otherwise overwhelm the child or children leading to stressful reaction. The following are suggestions that will hopefully lead to helpful actions in what a child may be able to bear.

Start the school day as you would normally do with regard to schedule and routine. You might engage your students by asking if there had been any events that have taken place that they had noticed on television. The open ended question allows them to tell whatever is on their minds rather than being led to specific events. You may learn more than just trauma of the school shooting.

Keep the students under control by asking them to speak one at a time. It may prove beneficial for children to share their questions about the event.  Allow them to share their thoughts and feelings. Be ready for emotional responses with a box of Kleenex nearby. You might allow a little more time for play and self-expression with younger children.

It may be beneficial to talk about death and what happens when people die. There is a great book for preschoolers, “Dinosaurs Die” by Marc Brown. It is based on the public television character, Arthur. It is wonderful book to allow for expression as well as questions about death.

Children may want to tell stories of death or violence that they have witnessed. Keep close watch on the level of gruesome details; also watch reactions of children who avoid discussion. This may be a time where you observe children who may have need for additional counseling due to traumas of their own.

Children benefit from being reassured that adults are watching out for them both at home and while as school for their safety.  Repetition of this statement by both teaching staff and parents may be very beneficial. Statements should be made with confidence and concern. Encourage children to let you know anytime that they feel upset, unsafe or overwhelmed. Share with the children about counselors being available for them to talk with if needed.

It is important during a response to a trauma that we do not say too much or over react creating a new trauma which will only worsen existing events. A calm reassuring voice is a must while keeping your point’s simple and age appropriate. The most important thing we can do in response to the recent events is to listen. LISTEN!!!

Here are some tips in dealing with these types of situations:

  • Be cautious about the amount of exposure to TV or other media forms with photos that could be upsetting.
  • Parents and teachers are both encouraged to pay attention to their children’s behaviors and emotions. Please seek help if new sudden changes should occur.
  • This is an important time for parents and teachers to keep one another informed of the changes that they may be witnessing.
  • Seeking the assistance of a school counselor or mental health consultant may be required based on the events and the needs of the child or children.


Roger D. Thompson, MS, LMFT

 Adapted from “Caring about Kids after Trauma or Death” by the Institute of Trauma and Stress at NYU.

Have you ever been in the supermarket with you child when they threw a fit?  How did you feel?  Were you embarrassed to the point of the leaving your groceries in the store and going home?  Did get a tense look on your face?  Did you grit your teeth and threaten to spank your child?  Did you do something to pacify your child? 

Why is it that some parents have the ability to handle these situations with grace, while others melt under the pressure?  The answer may be as simple as understanding the word, Anxiety.  Anxiety is defined as the feeling of worry or unease about a situation with an unknown outcome.  Or rather, anxiety is the feeling a person gets when they desire to have control of a situation that they have no real ability to control.  Often, anxious people seek control in unhealthy, destructive ways (i.e., yelling, arguing, pacifying).  While these methods may be functional (they control the person with whom you are interacting), they are in no way healthy.  If this is the case, it makes sense that parent of the child in the grocery store feels anxious.  They do not have the ability to control the moods or actions of their children.  Although there will be many parents who read this statement and disagree with it, it might be beneficial to give it some more thought.

You are the only person that can control you!  While others may influence your decision, the ultimate decision for how you feel and act belongs to you.  Anxiety is most often activated by fear or frustration.  In the case of a parent and unruly child, the fear might be related to other’s judgments of your ability to parent.  The parent’s anxiety seeks to quiet (think control) the child rather than move to understand and engage the child.  It is difficult for many of us to engage with anxious people.  We feel anxious when we are near them.  Therefore, we must either withdraw from them or we must quiet them.

The Screamfree Institute, founded Hal Runkel, focuses on helping people learn to be in anxious free relationships (e.g., parent/child, husband/wife, and friend/friend).  More, a person in an anxious free relationship is “learning to relate with others in a calm, cool, and connected way, taking hold of their own emotional responses no matter how anyone else chooses to behave and learning to focus on their self and take care of their self for the world’s benefit.”

If you find yourself arguing, fighting, or constantly engaged in battle with a child, spouse, co-worker, or best friend, you might be struggling with anxiety.  You might be trying to control the person you love, rather than trusting them to love and care for you. On the outset, it seems less risky to control someone than to allow them to have free will to hurt you.   If these situations are applicable to you, you might consider it is time for you 1) focus on yourself, 2) calm down, and 3) grow up.  Relationships can only flourish when they are allowed to grow in non anxious environments.

If you need assistance in these matters, you can contact the Christian Counseling Center at 270-442-5738.  You can also check out Hal Runkel’s work on the website,


Andrew N. Williams, MMFT, LMFT

Parents play a vital role in the way children handle stress and crisis. Usually, children’s responses are going to be influenced by their parent’s reactions. If parents take a positive response, children will learn the same. Here are some examples of ways to do this. Some of these examples were inspired by an article on When your child seems upset:

  • Take time to talk and make sure you really understand what the problem is.
  • Turn off the TV, internet, etc. Make sure they have your full attention
  • Let them know you are listening by brief comments, and repeating back what you hear them say
  • Let them know that feeling stressed and angry is normal and that all people feel that way
  • Give them security to know that you are going to take action to be a protection
  • Simply spend time with them so they have the chance to share these personal things.
  • It is helpful for some children to know schedules, children like structure

These are just some basic ways a parent can help their child when they appear stressed. It may be that they need to talk to someone outside the situation such as a counselor. Therapy gives children an opportunity to express things they may find difficult in other settings.

It is important to remember that all children will feel stressed and the way they initially learn how to deal with it is from parents. This is yet another way for parents to teach children.

Justin P. Lewis, MA, LMFT

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6 NIV                                                                                                                                           

This short ancient proverb from the Hebrew Scriptures captures the importance of parenting.

The proverb is concise, yet gives much wisdom about caring for a child. The proverb states two truths. The lessons learned as a child will stay with him or her their entire life and parents have influence in the way a child turns out. This means that effective parenting must be intentional.

Lessons learned will stay with a child over their entire life. Quite an overwhelming thought. So, if that is the case, how do you teach lessons the most effective way? How are children going to learn these lessons?

The way that all children learn is experience. What children experience at home is how they learn to treat people, behave in social situations, and what they think about themselves.

Children are going to imitate what they see. The way their home life operates is the way they assume all homes operate until they learn otherwise. Even when they see otherwise, it is going to be the natural tendency to behave under the expectations given at home.

Prepare to be imitated.

What is a parent to do? Take action.

Because your child is going to imitate you, make sure they see you doing what you want them to be doing. This could be simple; if you want your child to show respect to others then show people respect. An example of intentional parenting is showing care for the community. This could be taking your son with you to participate in a service activity.

Telling a child what is good is appropriate. Showing them what is good is love.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “follow me as I follow Christ.” Parents should operate with the same mindset to start their children “on the way they should go.”

Justin P. Lewis, MA

The parenting values found in I Thessalonians 2:11-12 can be very valuable. This text is not the most common parenting passage in the bible, but carries plenty of weight when it comes to practical instruction.

The text reads:

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,encouragingcomforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

So how does a father (or mother) encourage? I think encouraging in this case is supporting the decision to live a life worthy to God. Supporting decisions of children teaches them self-esteem. When confidence in their decision is shown they feel like a competent person.

Comforting is helping the child when things get tough. Obviously Paul knows the pain that goes with a life worthy of God. Similarly parents know that life can be painful. Comforting children in all stages of life is something parents are called to do. Comforting children when things seem minor will help you learn to be comforting. It will also teach the children to come to parents for comfort because they have always found it to be a safe place.

Urging is giving a push when a push is necessary. Sometimes parents are the only people in a person’s life that have the credibility to push their children because they know their limitations. A parent knows when a child is living up to potential and and is responsible to make sure they are doing the best they can. An important part of this is urging properly. Knowing their limits works both ways-not expecting too much and expecting effort.

This text indicates that ultimately a parental goal is for the child to live a life worthy of God. What an incredible responsibility!

Justin P. Lewis

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Team: two or more draft animals harnessed to the same vehicle or implement.

What an image for co-parenting! Yet what it takes for divorced couples to see themselves as a team for the purpose of parenting can only be described as a miracle. And, as any coach will avow, “Attitude is everything!”

  • Have an agreed upon goal. The goal might be very broad, like “we will raise our children to know that they are loved by two parents.” A team without a common goal cannot begin to play the game.
  • Make a game plan. What roles will each parent play? What roles do they want the stepparents to play? How can they help each other? How will they ensure that children do not play them against each other? What strategies can be negotiated to facilitate the most desires of each parent for the kids?
  • Communicate. A football team planning to run a two-point conversion play needs to tell the field goal kicker. A parent who wants to break a child of the new habit of lying will communicate the problem and the strategy to the other parent.
  • Pull your weight. The more both parents take part in parenting tasks, the more the child will feel connected to each as a parent.

It would take a real miracle to accomplish all of these things in your co-parenting. They are not one-time changes, but day to day, incremental decisions. Be encouraged that every effort made will improve the family life of your child.

1 Corinthians 4:2 “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”

Parents are stewards of the children God has given to them, and God holds each steward accountable for their care. To be a dependable parent:

  • Fulfill obligations-legal and otherwise-in a timely way, without hassle, and without using them to manipulate the other parent.
  • Respect the court ordered purpose of the support. Offer to give a periodic account to the other parent of how the funds are used to care for the children.
  • Plan regular meetings by phone or in person, so that both parents stay informed of issues concerning the child.

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  • Learning how not to do for others what they can learn to do for themselves is one of the golden rules of adult maturity. 6 years ago
  • In an effort to avoid the feeling of failing people often don't put forth effort.By doing this they will not experience their full potential 7 years ago
  • The ability to successfully handle conflict is more important than the amount of conflict in a marriage. 7 years ago
  • Weekend challenge: Tell your spouse something you love about them and expect nothing in return. 7 years ago
  • Word Wed:Don't be anxious about anything,but in every situation,by prayer and petition,with thanksgiving,present your requests to God.Phil4 7 years ago

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