Stress Management for Living, Teaching, & Parenting

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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 focus on their perceived inadequacies 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 differences.

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 … >>>

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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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Counterwill Causes Stress

counterwill causes stress

Counterwill is something we all experience, and counterwill causes stress. What is counterwill? It is the name for the natural human resistance to being controlled.

Although adults experience this phenomenon all the time (and most people often sympathize with the person who experiences it), we seem to be surprised when we encounter it in young people. Perhaps it’s no surprise that  counterwill is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted dynamic in child-parent and teacher-student relationships.

This instinctive resistance to force can take many forms:

  • Refusal to do what is asked
  • Reluctance and resistance when being told
  • Disobedience or defiance
  • Lack of motivation to do what the adult desires the young person to do

Counterwill can also manifest itself in procrastination or … >>>

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Common Questions About Discipline Without Stress

Parents and teachers often ask me questions about Discipline Without Stress, both its methodology and best practices. Following are some of the most common questions I received. I hope they help others in their quest to raise responsible children.

(Q = Question. R = Response)

Q: What would you do in the following scenario: You ask your children/students to identify the level they have chosen but they refuse to be honest and acknowledge the actual level chosen.

R: If the youngster is in the 5th or 6th grade or above, I would NOT ASK. Instead I would say, “Reflect on the level you are choosing, and consider whether you want to continue on that level or rise to a … >>>

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Stress and Social Media

stress and social media

Many people experience stress while on social media sites. Part of the reason for the stress relates to the comments and interactions that take place. What often starts as an innocent post often takes a turn for the worse, as commenters virtually “duke it out” regarding who is right and who is wrong. Heated arguments ensue, often filled with name calling and downright meanness. Even people who would never dream of being mean to others in face-to-face interactions take part.

Stress, Social Media, and Eye Contact

Often, mean comments online arise more from a lack of eye contact than from anonymity.

The fact is that people are meaner online than in real life. Many have blamed this on anonymity and … >>>

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Take the Stress Out of Screen Time

screen time

Many parents experience stress when it comes to the topic of children’s screen time. How much is too much? Should you restrict it? Is screen time a necessary evil? Or is screen time a positive thing? The questions are endless.

A reader sent me the following note about screen time.

“My 15-year-old spends several hours on the computer and she does not part with her phone. She does activities and is a good student, but every free moment she has is spent on Facebook or texting. The network she is on allows for free texts to certain numbers. WI-FI is free so she has Internet access on her phone. She feels that if she has done her chores, then she … >>>

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Having a Strategy Reduces Stress

strategy reduces stress

For many people, having a strategy reduces stress. In fact, people of all ages can operate more responsibly and reduce their stress level if they have a strategy.

Ask young people the following question: “If you wanted to be fully responsible right now, what would you be doing?” (This is a great question to ask yourself, too!)

In most cases, the answer will be readily apparent. This question prompts you to think in self-empowering ways. As a result, you’ll be motivated to act on the response.

Another strategy is to use sentence-completion exercises.

For example, just for a week begin the day by thinking of endings to each of the following sentences:

If I operate 5% more responsibly at home … >>>

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Student Stress and Hitting “the Wall”

Student stress

A reader asked me a question about student stress, referring to it as hitting “a wall” in learning. The person said: “On the surface, and without the benefit of knowing the author’s definition of this ‘wall,’ would you agree with this situation, especially regarding high school students today?”

Here is how I responded about student stress and “the wall”:

Yes. I have witnessed this from my experiences as a high school teacher, high school counselor, high school assistant principal, and high school principal.

As youngsters move up to higher grades, less emphasis is placed on learning skills and collaboration and more is placed on competition. We can see this in how teachers ask questions and the emphasis on grades. For … >>>

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Multitasking Causes Stress

multitasking causes stress

I’ve long asserted that multitasking causes stress. In fact, studies prove that effective multitasking is a myth. This is the reason that I continually refer to this activity as “switch-tasking,” rather than “multitasking.” The belief that engaging in multiple activities at once, such as texting while driving or conversing while typing, somehow allows us to concentrate on several things at once is simply not valid.

Today it is well accepted that attention is limited in capacity. The findings are clear: Our performance deteriorates drastically when we attempt to focus on more than one task at a time. And in the process, our stress level increases.

Traffic intersection violations are potentially hazardous events. There are a number of cases where a … >>>

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Personality and Stress Management

Personality and Stress Management

One of the best stress management tips for parents and teachers is to understand how personality affects behavior. When you know this, you can better manage your relationships with your children and students, and thus reduce your stress.

In my all three of my books (available here), I lay out the personality styles of thinker, feeler, doer, and relater. An image of a directional scale will help you picture and remember the styles. Visualize a thinker in the north, a feeler in the south, a doer in the west, and a relater in the east. In short, a thinker (north) analyzes and can be described as someone who processes information using a great deal of thought. A feeler (south) … >>>

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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