Stress Management for Living, Teaching, & Parenting

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Ask Questions to Take Control

Ask questions

If you want to have more control in situations and conversations, try asking more questions. One of the key ideas I suggest people write down during my seminars is this: “The person who asks the question controls the conversation or the situation.”

Let me demonstrate how this works. You walk into a store and the salesperson asks, “How are you today?” Isn’t there a natural tendency to answer?

Here is another situation. A friend with whom you are talking suddenly asks you a question. Do you stop and answer the question or do you continue with your monologue? Chances are you stop and answer the friend’s question.

If you want to discipline a student or child, control the situation by … >>>

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Obedience Does Not Create Desire

When enforcing rules, imposing punishments, or doling out rewards, be aware that these approaches aim at obedience, rather than promoting responsibility—and that obedience does not create desire.

The most effective approach to have young people do what adults want them to do is to tap into their emotions. Following rules requires thinking—not feelings. Yet feelings and emotions drives the majority of our decisions.

I use the word “Responsibilities” rather than “Rules” because I am able to have young people WANT to become responsible. I do this by tapping into the good feelings a person gets from being responsible. Once young people are exposed to the Hierarchy of Social Development, they want to raise themselves to the highest level—simply by … >>>

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Stress and Student Performance

stress and student performance

Schools and teachers are under a lot of pressure to meet standards. The pressure of taking standardized tests gets passed on to students.

Standardized tests can create crippling anxiety in students, and anxious kids perform below their true abilities. Students with test anxiety manage to get something down on paper, but their capacity to think clearly and solve problems accurately is reduced by their nervousness. This anxiety can expand to college admissions exams and lead to reduced motivation.

Even little kids aren’t immune to test anxiety. Researchers have seen evidence of it in students as young as first and second graders. Their worries tend to manifest in nonverbal signs such as stomach aces, difficulty sleeping, and a persistent urge to … >>>

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Know the Opportunity Costs to Reduce Stress

stress and opportunity costs

One way to reduce stress is to realize that everything in life has a price. The key to reducing stress is knowing the price beforehand and being willing to pay the price.

I’m not talking about actual dollars and cents here. I’m talking about the emotional, mental, or physical costs for every action you take.

For example, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the world’s great technology universities, new students are asked to choose two from the following: friends, grades, or sleep.

The point, of course, is that one cannot have all three.

The concept that “everything has a price” is similar to “opportunity costs” that economists use. For example, if you watch a television program, rather than … >>>

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Rewards Sabotage Teamwork

bad teamwork

I’ve long-asserted that rewards are counter-intuitive. A friend told me the following story that illustrates how rewards also sabotage teamwork. My friend was chatting with a man who coaches sports teams of 8 and 9-year-olds. He mentioned that he had a lot of difficulty this year in getting the kids to work together as a team.

My friend, an experienced primary teacher, started to offer some suggestions that she had found successful for developing an atmosphere of teamwork in her classroom. But the gentleman quickly stopped her.

“Oh, you don’t understand,” he said. “It’s not the kids who are the problem; it’s the parents! The parents have all told their kids that they would get money for every goal they … >>>

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Make Learning Less Stressful

learning and stress

Many people find it challenging to separate themselves from what others may think about them. This is especially the case when it comes to learning. We can see this play out in classrooms and workplaces every day. Both children and adults are afraid to make a mistake when learning something new, and as a result they prefer not to take chances, not to speak up with new ideas, and not to stretch beyond their current comfort zone. Doing so is simply too stressful.

But consider this: generally, people are not embarrassed to make mistakes when learning a musical instrument. They don’t give up when they play a wrong note on the piano—or in my case the Great Highland Bagpipes.

The … >>>

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Take a Break from Your Stress

take a break from stress

We can all benefit from taking an occasional break from our daily stress. Think about how much stress you are carrying around every day. While stress is inevitable in today’s world, how much you carry with you, and for how long, can have significant negative effects on your health.

I once heard the following analogy, which really put this topic in perspective.

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question: “Half empty or half full?”

She fooled them all. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. Answers ranged from 8 … >>>

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Spark the Joy of Learning

Spark the Joy of Learning

Many teachers and parents often ask me how they can instill a joy of learning in children who seem to hate school. Since it’s true that you teach someone something they don’t want to learn, the question then becomes, “How can you create interest so that the young person will WANT to do what you would like?” In other words, how can you spark the joy of learning? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Let the youngster know that you understand how he or she feels and that you will make no attempt to change the youngster’s feelings. (This approach is often referred to as paradoxical in that as soon as you indicate you will not do anything, the person very
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Celebrate the Differences

Cracked Pot

I’ve long asserted that we should celebrate the differences in people rather than pose them in a negative light. Unfortunately, many people see their differences as flaws, and they view their diversity in a negative way. But in reality, our differences are not flaws; rather, they are what make us unique. They key is to focus on the positive aspects of our diversity.

This topic reminds me of the story about the cracked water pot. A water-bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.… >>>

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Self-Acceptance Reduces Stress

Piece of paper stating "your are good enough" to show that self-acceptance can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Many people struggle with self-acceptance. In other words, too many people are searching for acceptance outside of themselves when they haven’t yet learned to accept themselves. Self-acceptance means being okay with WHO you are. It means being kind to yourself even when you make mistakes, fail, or do something that you later regret. When you practice self-acceptance, you reduce your stress level greatly.

Self-acceptance is a close relative to self-esteem. It is difficult to have one without the other, and, if you have one, you will tend to have the other. There may be many reasons why people have low self-acceptance, but most fall into one or more the following areas:

  • A desire to be perfect
  • A focus on imperfections
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How to Recognize Coercion

coercion

Coercion isn’t always recognizable. In fact, we all engage is subtle and not-so-subtle forms of coercion every day. Can you recognize coercion in your day-to-day activities?

Here is a simple example.

My wife was viewing the first ten minutes of a movie on TV and was so enthralled with it that she pressed the “record” button and then stopped viewing the program. She announced that she looked forward to sharing the movie with me and told me that she was saving it until such time as we could watch it together.

When that time came around, her enthusiasm pitched even higher. However, as she turned on the recording and the synopsis of the movie was shown, I found that I … >>>

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Happiness Should Be a High Priority

Happiness

Happiness should be a high priority in your life. You even have a responsibility to yourself to participate in those activities that bring you satisfaction leading to your own happiness.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” Some authors on the subject of happiness even go so far as asserting that people have a moral obligation to be happy. The reason is rather obvious. Happy people do far more good than unhappy people. When you are happy, you have a positive effect on people. When you are unhappy, you also influence—but in a negative way.

Reflect on what life has given you. You will soon start to be grateful—and … >>>

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Reflect on Your Actions

reflect on your actions

Being able to reflect on your actions is key to reducing stress and prompting positive change in your life. The lack of reflection in your life can be likened to chewing—but not swallowing. The food is tasted, but unless digested, there is no nutritional value. That’s because no one really learns from an actual experience. It is the reflection about the experience that generates learning.

The human brain is a meaning-seeking organism, and because much of what we are exposed to happens so fast, we need time to process, to internalize its meaning. In addition, the brain continues to process information long after we are aware of it. This is the reason why many of our ideas seem to “pop … >>>

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How Rewards Can Backfire

Rewards Can Backfire

Rewards can backfire.

Here is a real-life example of how rewards can backfire with young people. If you’ve read any of my books or been a reader of this blog for a while, you know that I don’t believe in giving rewards to reinforce behaviors, to control, or to bribe (in the fashion they are used with children too often today).

Rewards, in the form of stickers, pencils, stars, or any other attempt to manipulate behavior, only promote external motivation (a “what’s in it for me?” mentality). The real goal of discipline should be to teach students internal motivation (doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do).

A reader shows  how rewards can backfire.

“I had … >>>

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Do Your Children Fear You?

children fear you

If your children fear you, they cannot be honest with you. In fact, very often lying stems from fear.

Recently someone who purchased the eBook Children of Rainbow School contacted me. She wrote: “My children are fluent in the four levels—so much so that even my 3 1/2 year old is able to identify a given behavior with a particular level. We have two PDF printouts [from your web site] of the hierarchy on our fridge and the levels have become almost table talk. The problem doesn’t lie in the lack of knowledge about the different levels; the problem is a lack of honesty and not wanting to accept responsibility for what they’ve done (‘I didn’t do that,’ ‘It’s not … >>>

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Creativity Reduces Stress

Creativity Reduces Stress

I’ve long believed that creativity reduces stress. Turns out that I’m not the only one. Researchers have long been studying the connection between health and personality traits. Openness—which links to creativity and measures flexibility and willingness to entertain novel ideas—has emerged as a life-long protective factor. It seems that creativity reduces stress and keeps the brain healthy.

Of the personality traits, only creativity decreased mortality risk. One possible reason creativity is a protective of health is because it draws on a variety of neural networks within the brain.

Because the brain is the command center for all bodily functions, exercising it helps all systems to continue running smoothly. Keeping the brain healthy may be one of the most important aspects … >>>

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Dr. Marvin Marshall
P.O. Box 2227
Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Phone: 714.220.1882
marv@marvinmarshall.com
Piper Press
P.O. Box 2227
Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Phone: 559.805.1389
order@piperpress.com

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