Sanity SaversTM and More...
December 2011

Greetings for the upcoming holidays!

In Tantrum Control I discuss the importance of helping toddlers handle their emotions when they feel overwhelmed and have tantrums.

In Being With Family at the Holidays I offer tips related to staying focused, healthy, and engaged at family gatherings, which can be a stressful time.

WE CAN ALL ADDRESS THE LITERACY CRISIS IN THIS COUNTRY. Jumpstart is a national early education nonprofit organization that pairs well-trained, caring adults with underserved preschoolers who live in poverty in year long mentoring relationships. Visit www.jstart.org to learn more about Jumpstart initiatives - such as Scribbles to Novels; Playdate With A Purpose; and Read for the Record.

I was honored to be Jumpstart's Read for the Record's National Spokesperson on NBC's Today Show on October 6, 2011. Thank you for continuing to be involved since Jumpstart's work continues in low income neighborhoods every day. We need your help, so please, if you can, contribute by clicking on www.jstart.org/donate. There is something that every single one of us can do to help those less fortunate. Over one million children live below the poverty level in the U.S. This shameful situation must change. Each of us has a responsibility to repair our world. Let us eliminate the 2-year achievement gap that exists between children from low income and those from middle income neighborhoods when they begin kindergarten!

Please see Marlo Thomas' website, www.marlothomas.com, where I discuss psychology and relationship issues. Marlo Thomas and I talk about families and the holidays (and we surely have a lot of holidays!). Tune in for some sanity saving ideas for YOUR family gatherings.

Once again thank you for continuing to read and talk about Sanity Savers: Tips for Women to Live a Balanced Life.

Check my website, www.drdaleatkins.com for updates on my appearances and use the Quick Links sidebar to access ongoing articles. I am available to speak to your group or organization. Please contact me directly at dale@drdaleatkins.com or contact the Speakers' Bureau at HarperCollins.

I appreciate you sharing this newsletter with your friends, loved ones, and colleagues by clicking Send to a Friend button below.

Wishing you health, peace and balance.


In this issue
  • Sanity Savers: Tips for Women to Live a Balanced Life
  • Sanity SaversTM
    Tantrum Control
  • Happenings
  • Sanity SaversTM
    A Good Daily Habit
  • Sanity SaversTM TIPS

    Being With Family at the Holidays
  • A Thought

  • Sanity Savers: Tips for Women to Live a Balanced Life
    SS Book Cover

    SANITY SAVERS: Tips for Women to Live A Balanced Life is filled with suggestions to save your sanity every day of the year.

    A must for any woman seeking to find her balance!

    Sanity SaversTM
    Tantrum Control

    At some point in your career as a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, or bystander, you will likely witness a toddler child's "meltdown."

    A child who "melts down" is a child who is overwhelmed with feelings of anger. Although many children have learned that temper tantrums will get them attention, most children who have tantrums feel frustrated and angry that they are not getting or doing what they want or that they are supremely uncomfortable. They feel overwhelmed with emotion. Sometimes they yell and cry, holler and kick so be sure the child is safe. See if you can help the child discover the source of his or her frustration. Maybe a sock has fallen into a shoe and is "bumpy"; perhaps he spilled his cereal on the floor and cannot reach the bowl. In these situations the toddler needs to have your heartfelt empathy. If, after some minutes, the tantrum escalates and the child is unable to calm down, try holding (not too tight) your child close to you in a loving hug. Speak softly or don't speak at all and rock him or her to let the child know you will help them to get control of themselves.

    Too often, as soon as an adult sees a tantrum, they become impatient, angry, and immediately intervene. Tantrums that occur frequently in children who are about 2 years of age, will often decrease by the time the child is 4. What is helpful is to try to remain calm, see if you can anticipate what sets the child off and do your best to avoid situations that are potentially problematic especially at times when the child is tired, hungry, irritable or frightened. If you are witnessing a tantrum see what you can do to distract the child or change the scene. Sometimes bringing the child to another space, going outside, listening to music, speaking in a calm voice, reading, singing a favorite song or nursery rhyme, can help the child feel more in control of him or herself and help the two of you regain a more comfortable way of communicating. Among the most important qualities adults can nurture within themselves, before, during and after engaging with a child who tantrums, are compassion, empathy, patience, humor, and a sense of calm.

    Children look to the adults in their lives for security, comfort, direction, teaching, acceptance, and love. Keep your cool. When adults are out of control, children often feel scared. Many children's tantrums can be curbed by altering the way you respond, not just to the tantrum but to the way you treat the child in general and help him or her deal with a situation. If your child is having a tantrum because he or she was just refused their 3rd dessert, or your 2nd reminder that it is time to get into the bath, then you may need to initiate some "time out" to help your child calm down on his or her own.

    "Rehearsing" or "role playing" what is likely to occur also helps children feel more prepared for a situation or event. For example, prior to going on a play date, you can say, "Sometimes Suzie doesn't like to share. What can you do if she does not share her favorite toy?"

    Children watch the way adults talk to one another and to children, and they model that behavior. Pay attention to the ways you deal with frustration, anger, and disappointment because your children are likely to copy you.

    Even though you may be upset and embarrassed (why do these meltdowns often occur in public places?) do your best to remain calm and a bit emotionally detached. The child is expressing a feeling in a way he or she believes is okay. Often adults get so caught up in the behavior they forget to pay attention to the underlying reason the child may be upset. Hence, they miss an opportunity to help the child find alternative ways to express frustration or anger.

    In summary, acknowledge the child's feelings. See the situation from their point of view. Find distractions. Role play. And help them explore age appropriate ways to respond instead of melting down.


    TODAY Show (NBC)
    Please check website, www.drdaleatkins.com, for latest updates, including changes of time.

    December 13th, 7PM: Webinar, Expert Guest, Topic: Holiday Body-Mind Boot Camp, Part 2 of 3: It's All Relative: Coping with Stressful Family Relationships.

    Teachers College Psychology Roundtable: "Living in a Traumatic World"
    December 14th: 6-7:30PM. Roundtable Guest.
    Teachers College, Columbia University, Grace Dodge Hall Room 179.
    For further information, contact Alumni Relations at 212.678.3215 or tcalumni@tc.edu.

    Dr. Atkins is also the focus of an article, Work, Life, Balance, written by James Reisler. The article will appear in the December 2011 issue of TC Today Magazine. A PDF of the article will be available on www.drdaleatkins.com mid-December.

    Topics by Dr. Dale Atkins:
    Tips for Maintaining Interfaith Marriages: http://video.about.com/marriage/Tips-for-Maintaining-Interfaith-Marriages.htm;
    and, Tips for Growing Old Together
    and, Most Important Questions to Ask Before Getting Married: http://video.about.com/marriage/Most-Important-Questions-to-Ask-Before-Getting-Married.htm.

    Visit Marlo Thomas' site to access my relationship column and Mondays with Marlo video stream. http://marlothomas.aol.com/search/?q=dale+atkins

    Read Dr. Atkins' And Edythe Mencher's article in Reform Judaism Magazine,
    Winter 2010 Issue, Cover Story: Behind Bullying, and When Jack Pushed Jill Down the Hill.
    Online at http://reformjudaismmag.org/winter_2010/.

    Read Dr. Atkins' chapter, "Therapeutic Issues with Recipients of Cochlear Implants," in the new text, Psychotherapy With Deaf Clients From Diverse Groups, Second Edition.
    Edited by Irene Leigh, and published by Gallaudet University Press.

    Read Dr. Atkins' chapter, "Family Involvement and Counseling in Serving Children Who Possess Impaired Hearing," in the new text, Introduction to Aural Rehabilitation.
    Edited by Raymond H. Hull, and published by Plural Publishing.

    I invite you to visit my website to access archives of articles and interviews on line.

    Sanity SaversTM
    A Good Daily Habit

    Make Your Name Mean Something

    Once, at a conference, I asked participants to think about the changes they wanted to make in their lives. Since we are all so very connected to our names, we did a fun exercise that has evolved into a very meaningful experience. Try it yourself and see how each day you can engage in being the "best self" based on how you interpret your name. Take the individual letters of your name and assign an action verb to each one. For example, the name Sue could stand for Support, Unite, and Empower. Then, as you go through your day, engaging in the world, be open to opportunities in which you can "LIVE" those words.

    What does your name mean to you and what could it mean to you on a daily basis?

    Sanity SaversTM TIPS

    Being With Family at the Holidays

    It is that time of year again, and whether your image is "home for the holidays," or a sweet Hallmark card, the question remains "how will the holidays go?"

    You can resolve to making this holiday better than previous ones. How? By committing yourself to being an adult no matter what anyone says or does. Whether someone says something offensive or insists on telling an embarrassing story about you, how you handle it gives you an opportunity to change your part in the family communication pattern. You can imagine yourself feeling, thinking, and responding differently when, for example, you are asked, "when will you find the right partner already?" " Why do you insist on eating such strange food?" "How can you consider voting for 'HIM?'" Remember your response to how family events unfold is directly connected to your perception and attitude. Do you expect your mom who has no boundaries to suddenly respect yours? Is it reasonable to believe your racist uncle is going to refrain from telling an offensive joke? What are you willing and able to tolerate and how can you distract, guide, dodge, and, yes, enjoy time with your clan?

    Choose your "engagements" wisely. Here are some tips to consider:

    Be Yourself, Be True to Yourself, and Take Care of Yourself. - Take time to exercise, stretch, write, listen to music, enjoy some alone time, and by all means, seek out the people you enjoy and maximize your time with them.

    Avoid Trouble Spots. - Steer clear of topics which historically have not gone well. If you want to plumb the depths of difficult or challenging subjects, let the person know you are available to explore this with them at a more appropriate time and place. Consider the consequences of choosing this time to stir up old fires and even old scores.

    Be Mindful. - Be mindful of your goal and purpose for the holiday. Perhaps it is to enjoy family and friends, or maybe to bring a sense of calm and peace to your family. Is it to learn more about each other? Will you attempt to see your family from a different point of view?

    Getting to Know You. - Inquire about family members whose lives have not been readily open to you and be interested in getting to know their histories. Ask key family members to recall times in their lives when they were the most content or the most interested or the most happy. Tell them you really want to know them in ways you have never had a chance to before. See if you can discover facets of these people that you never knew.

    Notice Connections. - Find the ways you are like some of your family members and focus on characteristics you "inherited" that you admire and want to continue to emulate. Also, see how you have changed certain patterns that you don't like. As easy as it is to be critical and judgmental, try to understand how unhealthy it is for you.

    Be realistic yet appreciate what you can do to enhance your chances of having a "successful" and "warm" holiday. Someone recently sent me an e-mail reply to my query, "How was your family Thanksgiving?" "We all survived without any major incident which I have come to realize after so many years with my family, is synonymous for 'it was good.'"

    A Thought

    "Compassion is a verb."

    Thich Nhat Hanh

    DALE V. ATKINS Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, lecturer and commentator in the media who appears on the Today show.

    She has more than twenty- five years of experience and focuses on living a balanced life, parenting, aging well, managing stress, life & work transitions, family connections and healthy relationships.

    Dr. Atkins is the author and/or co-editor of several books including:

  • Sisters
  • From the Heart:
    Men and Women Write Their Private Thoughts about their Private Lives
  • Families and their Hearing-Impaired Children
  • I'm OK, You're My Parents
    How to Overcome Guilt, Let Go of Anger and Create a Relationship that Works
  • Wedding Sanity Savers
    How to Handle the Stickiest Dilemmas, Scrapes and Questions that Arise on the Road to Your Perfect Day.
  • And her newest book . . .

  • Sanity Savers: Tips for Women to Live a Balanced Life
  • .

    Find out more....
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