Psychology Around the Net: August 19, 2017

Happy Saturday, sweet readers!

Guess what? I’m going “off the grid” this weekend. Well, maybe not in the strictest of senses (I’ll still have my computer and phone) but in the sense that…well, let’s just say I’ve been neglecting my own personal interests — things I enjoy and feel help my personal growth — and it’s hurting my mental health. I feel unfulfilled. I have to figure out a way to stop that.

Starting today.

But first, the latest in this week’s mental health and wellness news! Learn how to be more supportive of your child’s teacher, why some researchers believe we need many more in depth studies on medical marijuana, that a new app is helping people who deal with mental illness connect with one another, and more.

Psychology of Hate: What Motivates White Supremacists? While white supremacists are nothing new, research shows the numbers are growing and it could be because these people tend to have more aggression and the “dark triad” personality traits (i.e. narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism — which is the tenancy to manipulate others for your own gain) than others.

How to Be Supportive of Your Kid’s Teacher: School’s in session for many — and right around the corner for others — so if you don’t already know, it’s time to learn these ways you can better support your child’s teachers that focus not only on just the teachers, but also on your kid and you.

The Psychology of Brand Loyalty: 5 Key Takeaways: Some research says brand loyalty is dying — that consumers are look more for item quality than item brand — while other research says that’s just not true. For businesses and consumers alike, here are five ways to better understand the psychological factors that contribute to brand loyalty.

A Psychiatry Researcher Explains the ‘Real and Urgent Need’ for More Research Into Medical Marijuana: Researchers at the Veterans Health Administration conducted and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine two studies that found there isn’t enough high-quality research that provides evidence of both the benefits and harms or using medical marijuana for conditions such as pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

First US Transgender Surgery, Psychiatry Fellowships: Mount Sinai Health Systems in New York City has launched two new transgender-related medical fellowships. One fellowship focuses on transgender surgery (given to Bella Avanessian, MD, who completed a plastic surgery residency) and the other on transgender psychiatry (given to Matthew Dominguez, MD, who completed a general adult psychiatry residency), and both are the first of their kind in the United States.

Huddle Is a Mental Health App That Aims to be a Safe Space to Share With Peers: When Dan Blackman learned his deceased father was a functioning alcoholic who never got the help he needed, he created Huddle, “an online video platform where people could share their issues with one another,” to help the millions of adults with mental health problems who don’t seek help due to stigma connect with other people suffering the same issues.

from World of Psychology
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What to Do When Your Friends Divorce

marriage in troubleYou have been best buddies for years. As couples you were at each other’s weddings, baby showers, housewarmings and spend more weekends together than not.  And, almost as much as growing old with your spouse, you picture growing old with them. Until — divorce.

When the couples you are closest to start to fall apart it can hurt almost as much as if your own marriage were ending.  Family trips and weekend barbecues will never be the same. Friends becoming the family you chose is true for many, and when a family splits up everyone suffers. So, what do you do when your best friends decide to call it quits?


They are your friends for a reason. You probably love them like family. Try to remember that the problems they have with one another are theirs and not yours. They have decided to leave each other, not leave your friendship. And, although it will be a difficult process to redefine the boundaries of your relationship, you should still be there to listen and support as they each need it. Your pain at their split is not their focus right now. But, your friendship is likely to be needed more than ever.

Try not to take sides. Whatever the reasons they have decided to end their marriage, getting drawn into the drama will not help them, or the future of your friendship. Remaining neutral but caring is your best course. And taking sides can affect your own relationship and family in a negative way too.  


The landscape of your relationships with each of your newly single friends will change bit by bit. With effort and caring it will maintain, but many things are likely to be different. How different will depend a lot on how friendly their split was, but accept that you are still not likely to be doing group vacations going forward.

Spending time with each of them in different ways may take a bit of juggling. It may also require a conversation with each of them about your intentions to stay friends with them both and how that will look. He comes to one event and she comes to another? Or, will they be okay under the same roof?

Protect Your Relationship and Family

This is new territory for you and your family. What does it mean that the people your children may have referred to as “aunt” and “uncle” are no longer together? This can create a need to explain marriage separation and divorce to your kids. It may also scare them. If this can happen to another family, could it happen to theirs? Reassuring your children that each family faces unique circumstances, and that they are safe should be a priority.

Children, both yours and theirs, are another reason not to take sides. Your children probably love them each like family and do not need to hear bad things about either one of them. Their children may love you like family and need all the positive adult support and love they can get.

A close friend’s divorce can also rattle your own relationship. Much like your children wondering if this could happen to their own family, you may also be wondering the same thing. Don’t let the pain of others color the way you feel about your spouse. Every relationship is different and faces different problems. No matter how similar you felt you were as couples in the past, their problems are not yours. However, this may be a good time to talk with your spouse about what you value in your relationship and how to keep things strong between you.

Nothing about divorce is easy. Unfortunately, because of the high divorce rate it is highly probable that divorce will affect you and your family in some way. When it affects close friends (or family) it is a sad situation for all. Just try to remember that they are divorcing each other, not you.

from World of Psychology
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Want Happy and Healthy Kids? Just Say “NO!”

When asked what they want for their kids, many parents respond, “I just want them to be happy and healthy.” Such a simple, harmless, laudable goal!

And yet, such an orientation frequently results in parents giving their kids too much stuff, too many experiences, at too early an age. The upshot: These kids become more harpy than happy. Rather than feeling grateful for what they’ve been given, they feel resentful that their every whim is not being satisfied.

So, next time you have a desire to give your kids whatever they want, curb your enthusiasm. Otherwise, you might end up with unappreciative, unhappy children who have trouble coping with the inevitable ups and downs of life. Such kids have low frustration tolerance. They can’t make choices. They have an exaggerated sense of entitlement. And they become expert at nagging, begging, and exhausting their parents till they get what they want.

So, if this pattern has already taken hold in your household and you sincerely want to curb it, here’s what you need to do. 

Say “NO!”  Being told “no” by a parent helps a child build character, establish values and set limits. Remind yourself that when you say “no” to your child (and mean it), you’re teaching your child an important lesson in reality. 

But some parents claim that they don’t know how to say “no” to their kid. If that describes you, here are a few ways to do it:

  1. A “no” can be loving, as in “No honey, you’ve had enough to eat for now.”
  2. A “no” can be blunt, as in “No, I won’t buy that for you.”
  3. A “no” can be accompanied with an explanation, as in “No, I just bought you a new video game last week.” 
  4. A “no” can suggest an alternative, as in “No, this pair of sneakers is too expensive but this other one looks great and costs less.”
  5. A “no” can even be completely old fashioned, as in “No, because I’m the parent and I said so.”

To make this new approach work, you first must believe that giving your kids whatever they want is not the description of a good parent.

Second, you need to appreciate that just because you can afford to buy your kids an item doesn’t mean that it’s a wise idea for you to do so.

Third, if your child becomes overly demanding avoid caving in, thereby rewarding bad behavior. Let him be frustrated. Let her have a temper tantrum. Let him try to make you feel guilty. Let her be angry. Let them think you are the worst parent ever. Be strong. Stick to your guns. Do not be blackmailed by fits of temper or relentless rage. 

Fourth, find other, more creative ways to connect with your child. Do things together which you both enjoy.  Ask open-ended or multiple choice questions to discover how your child thinks.

Examples of such questions are: When do you think a parent should say “no?” Do you ever say “no” to yourself?  What makes you happy, not just for the moment, but really happy?  What’s so difficult about waiting to get what you want? If your child responds (instead of just shrugging his shoulders, and saying “I don’t know”) respect his opinions. Don’t get into a tug-of-war over the “right answer.”

It’s much too easy in our affluent society to overindulge our kids. If you think this is a blessing, think again


from World of Psychology
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Personal Foul

strikeoutCollege football: bucolic settings, pulsating stadiums, swooning cheerleaders. And, yes, hyperventilating coaches. From an enraged Woody Hayes to a shrieking Jim Harbaugh, apoplectic coaches are more common than Natural Light on university campuses. And, at times, even more biting.

As I Netflixed my way through a Saturday night, I stumbled onto the latest “Last Chance U” documentary. “Last Chance U” takes us into the college football netherworld, specifically Scooba, Mississippi. Here we are introduced to the inimitable Buddy Stephens, the red-faced East Mississippi Community College head-coach/full-time tyrant.

Buddy is a television producer’s dream: a hyper-competitive football coach who appears one offsides penalty away from a coronary. Pleading to “coach the kids up,” Buddy espouses a tough love doctrine–in between vulgar tirades crasser than any Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor promotion.

As Buddy unleashes his latest venom-filled harangue, the players retreat into a shell of downcast, mumbled “yes, sirs.” His assistant coaches glance down, making eye contact with their shoes. As for the viewers? Even for the testosterone-fueled world of college football (and, yes, I am a self-described sports fan), the crassness shocks.  

But more than picking on Buddy, I am picking on the coaching profession–and society’s dutiful obedience to coach as taskmaster. For every coach as counselor, there is a jowel-faced Buddy Stephens screaming obscenities at a bewildered kid. Considering sports’ advances (from diet to training regimens to sleep hygiene), why do we still embrace coach as Neanderthal?    

When I look at the most revered coaches, their demeanors are more professorial than pugnacious. John Wooden and Dean Smith immediately come to mind. Both were even-tempered and their preternatural calm rubbed off on their respective teams. These coaches were more than tacticians; they were sportsman–arguably as revered off the field as on.

Critics might contend, “Don’t be naive, Matt.  College sports is business. And the kids signed up for it.” Yes, college sports is a business–a multi-million dollar one. But so is Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom–and, well, you get the idea. In any of these businesses, is it considered customary or appropriate to belittle a 17 or 18 year old employee? Is it considered motivating to attack a subordinate effort’s (“Be a man. Get off your lazy a**”) in the most personal, derogatory of terms?

Somehow in sports, this is considered acceptable–even laudable–behavior. “That coach–what a motivator. Those kids bolted out of the locker room like a pack of lions,” conventional wisdom dictates.

But while society rationalizes a coach’s abusive behavior (he is “competitive–the moment just got the best of him”), those verbal blows scar. Imagine you are a East Mississippi College player and Buddy publicly disparages you week after week in the coarsest of terms. More than jeopardizing your playing time, these continual verbal assaults jeopardize your self-confidence and even self-worth. According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), 41% of athletes “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.” In response to a profane coach, Rhode Island players developed ulcers and eating disorders; some even engaged in self-harm.  

Study after study refutes coaches’ ossified coaching methods. From Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, “Negative emotions grab people’s attention more. So there’s a perception that the best way to get what you want out of employees or players is by negativity or threats, or being stressful or intense. But in terms of bonding, loyalty, commitment to a team or a group and personal development over time, negativity doesn’t work as well as positivity.”  Dr. Ben Tapper adds, “The studies all say there’s no incremental benefit to being hostile. Even when you control for a leader’s experience and expertise, hostility always produces diminishing returns.”

And yet Buddy continues to shriek and curse and demean into the sultry Mississippi air. As he lathers himself into a frothin’ frenzy during another East Mississippi victory, he has already lost the most important game.

Even if he doesn’t know it.


Wolff, Alexander (2015, September 28). Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from

from World of Psychology
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5 Things to Teach Your Child to Avoid Impulsivity & Behavioral Issues

Parenting a child with impulsivity and behavioral issues is one tough task, and in some cases when parents visit me and ask for help, they believe it is impossible to teach their kid to avoid these behaviors. Well, in this article I will be walking you through the things to teach your child in order to avoid impulsivity and bad behaviors.

First off, you have to understand what the cause of these behaviors is. If your kid cannot just help it, then he or she may have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or some other condition that is not entirely his or her fault. And as a parent, it is important to know that it is not as a result of bad parenting but caused by a brain-based condition.

What really happens here?

The part of the brain that controls impulses develops slowly in these children, and as a result, they speak and take actions without pausing to think of the consequences.

What can you do?

Before we get down to what you need to teach your kid, let’s take a look at things you can do.

  • Find out why your child has these behavioral issues by talking with your child’s doctor or consulting with a specialist.
  • After knowing the cause of your child’s impulsivity, do a little research on your own as this will guide you in dealing with these issues in a healthy way.
  • Meet with other parents that are dealing with it or who have dealt with it successfully. ADHD is the most prevalent childhood condition associated with impulsive behavior, so yes, you are not alone and no matter the cause of your child’s impulsivity there are other parents out there and meeting with them can help you handle yours in a better and more practical way.

What to teach?

  1. Patience

Patience is a virtue that can be instilled in your kid. Patience teaches them the value of delaying gratification which is a skill necessary for their maturity. It can help counteract impulsivity, and the best way to teach this is by modeling.

You also have to refrain from snapping impatiently at your child, always act calmly without surprise or fear when he or she does something out of the blue. If the behavior did make you angry, take a few minutes to calm down before deciding how to respond, don’t emotionally react.

  1. Alternate Behaviors

You can teach your child alternate and more socially appropriate ways of expressing what he wants or needs. For example, instead of fighting with friends or siblings over sharing their toys, teach him the process of borrowing (“Please can I play with your puzzle?) and bartering (“I will loan you my story book if I can play with your puzzle”). Also, you must try to model this behavior for him by showing respect for his possessions.

  1. Positive Behaviors

It is important to note that most children with poor impulse control genuinely want to behave appropriately. It is good then to notice those positive behaviors when they occur and provide appraisals. For example, “That was very nice of you to let your friend play with your toy.” And when you see your child manage his or her impulses, for example, “nice job getting yourself calmed back down.” Praising every little thing he or she does right helps as it encourages that very behavior.

Now, the other side of this coin is that you have to also point out unwanted behaviors because your kid may not realize when the impulsivity kicks in. Calmly pointing it out helps over time but not in all cases as some kids won’t be able to catch themselves before acting. In such situations, consulting a child therapist or a child counselor will help.

  1. Responsibility

Yes, we all know you can’t accelerate a child maturity, but progressively you can provide him or her with the opportunities to take on an increasing level of responsibilities. Some simple tasks like pouring the milk or helping you carry groceries. As the child grows, so should the nature of what you put him or her in charge of.

  1. Accountability

Holding your child accountable for his or her actions is crucial in molding a responsible adult. Set up rules ahead of time and you must make sure that punishment is administered immediately also they should be short and appropriate.

Let minor misbehaviors slide and let the punishment fit the crime. The punishments should be able to remind them that they are responsible for their own behavior.

Additional tips for parents

Consistency is Key

Try your best to make sure you provide a consistent and predictable routine at home. Time to take your bath, brush your teeth or even time for bed, do well to keep the schedule the same. This has proven to be very effective even when your kid cannot tell time. Also, remember to be consistent in the rules around the house, punishments and other things mentioned above.

Avoid Surprises

If there is going to be a change in routine or schedule, do well to inform your child prior to the time – this way he or she knows what to expect. Preparing them for the change can go a long way in eliminating any form of meltdown that is supposed to follow after the surprise.

Healthy food and rest

Make sure your child has three meals and two snacks each day with a healthy amount of rest also. You don’t expect a hungry and tired child to act on their best behavior, do you? Also, remember to make available some emergency sugarless gum in case your kid appears desperate to chew something – trust me, that will save many collars and shirt sleeves.

Every child is different. Therefore, working with a child therapist to get advice on what to do can help you curate a plan to manage your child’s symptoms while building his or her strengths.

from World of Psychology
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Finding the Gems Among the Clutter

I am a professional de-clutterer, one who strives to give my clients the ability to find space in their minds, bringing them the peace we all seek and need to be our most productive selves.

Amongst everyone’s clutter are gems. Gems that my clients have been looking for, ones they have great stories about. In my work I’ve experienced both the crazy cluster of collected crap and that of treasured keepsakes, a brilliant trail of their history. I’ve learned more about people in my work with them than I would have through conventional, social means.

My life has become that much richer for knowing some of the people I work with. Many have been therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. I’ve noticed the insight into what clutter has created in their own lives, profoundly affecting their own mental health and relationships. They tell me I’m the therapist when they feel and experience the process of letting go and feeling space. Their honesty and openness shows me their need to be healthy so that they in turn can bring their best to their patients and clients. They’re clearer, less muddled, after they’ve cleared their space of unwanted, no longer useful things. 

They are no less sentimental than anyone else. We touch each item, I hear each story that needs sharing. I listen and acknowledge, maybe even share myself. It may take a few minutes to process as they relive a moment in time. We decide to keep or let it go, where it belongs or who it goes to. Photographs, artwork by their children, family heirlooms. Mostly it’s belongings tossed in places just to get them out of the way, not in a specific area, difficult to locate, perhaps forgotten or kept “just in case.” Some of my clients just want their stuff in a box, out of sight, but knowing that it still exists.

I’ll never tell anyone that their things have to go. It is not for me to decide, but to support their intentions. And there have been times a project is not completed. They are stuck, not as ready as they thought, and that’s ok. They can’t let go. We will resume another time.

The process for many, especially those who have hoarded, is a daunting and highly emotional process. Their stuff defined them — is a big part of who they are. If they don’t have it, they’ve lost who they are. Living simply, living with what you really need and what brings you joy is a movement many are taking seriously. The reasons are evident — people feel better, period. 

But like many personal issues, clutter should be addressed, just as being overweight, abusing substances, exhibiting poor time management, addiction to our smartphones, are impediments to a happier life. These issues are in the way of being your best, healthiest self. 

I’m completely empathetic and sensitive to every person I work with. I get it! Life gets so busy and the years fly by. How did this happen? Where did this stuff come from? It’s being lost in those years, raising kids, building careers, and staying busy, busy. For many of us, there’s no time and no interest in maintaining a healthy home. Yes, they’re doing their best, but not thinking that there may be other tasks, habits to be incorporated and mindfulness in doing so.

Recently I looked at a nude painting that was hanging in my room forever. It dawned on me that it didn’t bring me joy. In fact, the artist was an anxious, angry Australian I had met and purchased from years ago. Though I thought it was a well-done image, I suddenly realized as I really looked at that I don’t want it. This is an example of mindfulness… taking the time to experience something and being able to respond mindfully. Goodbye angry artist.

It is a mindful approach I continue to provide my clients. Recognizing deeply what something means to them and deciding what’s best for and with them. What is the healthiest result we can aim for in our work together? 

However, the gems are kept, perhaps not all and placed where we feel is right.

Gems, the treasures we hold onto which truly give us joy and loving memories are invaluable to us, but how much do we need in order to keep those stories alive inside us? It’s what we hold inside which fills us, not the stuff on the shelves. Having some reminders is OK. Perhaps the things we can let go of get to be a part of someone else’s joy. How often do we visit a thrift shop and wonder where that set of mid-century modern bowls came from and how excited we are to buy them for ourselves. I know I’ve been in that situation many times. Not only am I grateful that I get to have these cool bowls, but also how inexpensive they were! Thank you to the person who was able to let go of them and allow me a turn at enjoying them. 

You are not lost without your stuff.

You will find yourself more clearly free of the stuff you’ve been carrying around.

You are the real gem.

from World of Psychology
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Best of Our Blogs: August 8, 2017

Can you believe we’re nearly done with summer. Many kids have already or gearing up for the new school year. With summer about to be a memory, I would love to know your favorite summertime reads.

While the books are taking over my nightstand, I’m enjoying one surprising pick this season.

On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety is a new memoir that depicts Andrea Peterson’s, a Wall Street Journal contributing writer and Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism award recipient, true story of anxiety.

I find it fascinating for its info and validating for anyone who has suffered through anxiety.

How about you? Besides our posts on healthy relationships with others and yourself, what books are making your top summer reading list?

The 3 Stages of Relationships and Childhood Emotional Neglect
(Childhood Emotional Neglect) – Real relationships, at least healthy ones, don’t stay in “happily ever after.” Read to find out why fighting may be good for the two of you.

Are You Dealing with a Vindictive Mother?
(Knotted) – You don’t have to be a victim of a vindictive mother any longer.

When Your Kids Turn Against You In Favor of the Narcissistic Parent
(The Recovery Expert) – When you got into a relationship with a narcissist, you could never imagine losing it all-including the things and people you value you most. If you’re afraid of losing your kids and sanity, you need to read this.

Stopping the Self-Abuse After Being Abused
(The Exhausted Woman) – Just when you thought you were free from abuse, you find yourself haunted by your own thoughts. This will help.

3 Ways You Lose Yourself In Relationships
(Happily Imperfect) – This is a must-read for anyone who doesn’t want to get enmeshed in another relationship.

from World of Psychology
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