January is coming, do you make New’s Years Resolutions? Well, I love resolutions and I am really good at keeping them. Really good. Last year my resolution was to try new things. (Being in a practical baby jail with3 very young babies, it was difficult to do more than my weekly Target trips for diapers).

Throughout 2016, I created a business Facebook page, revamped my website to include this blog, learned how to provide EMDR therapy, tried every direct marketing business I could from friends and family members, tried Stitch Fix, painted my first canvas, tried several local Memphis restaurants, and traveled by plane with the family. 2016 was about experiments. Most turned out okay. A few (like the recipe for egg casserole with apples on top) not quite so much.

See, instead of making resolutions that require you to fast, diet, or restrict yourself in some way, I think your resolutions should make you feel better about yourself.

The Facts About Resolutions:

Here are some fun facts about New Year’s Resolutions from StatisticBrain.com:

  • 45% percent of people regularly make New Year’s Resolutions
  • Only about 8% of people who make resolutions actually keep them
  • People in their 20s are more likely than people over 50 to keep their resolutions
  • The most common resolutions are about self improvement/education, money and weight
  • People who make resolutions are 10x more likely to achieve their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions

That last one is important. People who make resolutions specifically are 10x more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t. It’s kind of like the lottery motto: You can’t win if you don’t play.   Except you’re probably not going to win the lottery. But you CAN achieve your goal.

The Two Keys to Successful Resolutions

  1. Make it positive. If at all possible, frame your resolution in terms of what you WILL do versus what you will stop doing. Even things that sound positive, like “I will lose weight” really feels like a negative because it makes me feel like there is something wrong with me right now. The goal is to FEEL better about my body. That might include taking vitamins, eating more fresh foods, trying new exercise classes and getting routine physicals. “I resolve to treat my body better.”
  2. Think LONG TERM. Resolutions fail because somehow you have to start this new habit and then keep it up every day from January 1 to December 31. Well that’s silly. How are you supposed to do something new over night? Think about a resolution as something that should be accomplished by the END of the year, not every day of the year. Remember, I didn’t try something new EVERY day. I just made it a point to seek out new opportunities whenever possible and say yes more than I said no.
  3. Write it down! Let’s tap into that 10x power. Research has shown that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. Announce it to your Facebook feed, put a sticky on your mirror or just write in an envelope and tuck it away in a desk drawer. Just write it down.
  4. Keep track of your victories. I have a record of new things that I tried throughout the year. I even have a bunch of pictures of them. Your memory sucks. You will forget what you did at the beginning of the year. Give yourself credit year round!.

Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents:

  1. Self Care: You’ve heard the expression, “You can not drink from an empty cup.” Well, this year, you could seek out more opportunities to take care of yourself before your children. Manicures, book clubs, girls nights, classes….whatever it is that refreshes you that you don’t “have time” to do. Schedule time once a week or once a month to make time for yourself. Your children will benefit from your refreshed attitude!
  2. Date Nights: Second to taking care of your self, supporting your marriage  is one of the healthiest things you can do for your family. If you are in a relationship, monthly date nights can be a fun resolution. Take turns being in charge of the planning. Get away from your kids for a while together. It is good for your children to watch you nurture your marriage.
  3. Family Meals. The research is strong on this one. Children who eat at least one meal per week at a table with their family have a host of positive benefits (less likely to use drugs, more likely to talk about problems, better social skills, etc). If your family is one that takes your meals in front of the TV or to your rooms, commit to having a family meal together once a week.
  4. Screen Time Reductions.  Again, most people WANT to reduce their screen time and their child’s use of electronics. But, rather than setting a restrictive goal (you will use your electronics less)…find something that you would like to do instead that will naturally reduce your screen time. Things like bike riding, taking daily neighborhood walks together, playing board games once a week are all good examples of things that you can start doing intentionally that will reduce your reliance on electronics.
  5. Consistent Contact. If you are a non-custodial parent or a parent that travels a lot, set a resolution to have more consistent contact with your child. Call on the same day each week, send a weekly card/postcard from each of your hotels, show up regularly for visits.  The quantity of time that you spend with your child is not as important as the CONSISTENCY of your relationship.  People take about wanting more “quality time” but I encourage you to have more “consistent time” and don’t worry if it doesn’t feel all that special (in the beginning).


My Personal Parenting Resolution

My personal resolution for 2017 is to have more one on one time with each of my three children. With three children (a 3 year old daughter and twin 2 year old boys), this is very challenging. But, I really ENJOY spending time with them individually. I get to see more of their personality and it is much less exhausting. Whenever I get an opportunity to run an errand, I plan to take just one child with me.

Let Me Help You Get 2017 Off Right

And for those of you who are seeking a better relationship with your child or who struggle with how to PLAY with your child, I have some great things coming for you.

In 2017, I will be introducing the first module of The Parenting PLAY Book.   This is the beginning of an online course that will teach you how to think and behave like a play therapist. It will walk you through the steps that I use in my practice to connect with kids, set limits, offer choices and build self esteem. And, it’s all in the comfort of your own home. Stay tuned.

Details are coming and the first module is my free gift to you!

Why a white daisy?

Apparently, when people  are asked to draw a flower, the first one that comes to mind for a majority of people is the daisy shape.   This single flower (just the flower part without the stem or any leaves and on a solid black background) was show to study participants after being shown a high-arousal negative image. Examples of high-arousal negative images include awful things like violence, injuries and car crashes.  Two trials were conducted:  in the first subjects were shown a high arousal image and then either a) the flower image b) a mosaic of fragments of the flower image or c) a visual fixation point.  In the second trial, the high arousal image was followed by either a) the flower image, b) a chair (deemed a neutral image) or c) a blue sky with clouds (deemed a positive non-floral image).   Systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were taken throughout the experiments.  

As expected, mean blood pressure was lower when participants viewed the flower versus the fixation point or the mosaic flower,  but what was unexpected is that the flower image actually reduced mean blood pressure to a level lower than the baseline.  Both the flower image and the blue sky had a similar positive impact in changing mood from negative to positive (with the blue sky having the most overall impact).  However, only the flower (not the sky) caused a reduction in mean blood pressure.  It was determined that viewing a simple flower image could in fact change a negative mood into a more positive one and also decrease blood pressure. 

The power of the single flower image was then studied in regards to salivary cortisol levels.  During this study, the high-arousal images were once again paired with the flower image, the flower fragment mosaic or the fixation point.  Once again, only the flower image was shown to significantly decrease stress during the recovery phase. One final examination looked at fMRI images of the brain during these conditions.  Through this imagery it was discovered that the flower image was effective in decreasing the amygdala-hippocampus activation that occurred after viewing the high arousal images. Researchers speculated that the flower image was a distraction tool that was helped prevent the recall of the stressful images.  

The brief viewing of this single flower image was shown to be effective at reducing negative emotions and created better functioning of both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Having such a simple tool available to help reduce stress and regulate unpleasant emotions and is one possible tool for interrupting ruminating thoughts or unpleasant flashbacks.  

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

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