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Parenting Games: 3 Ways to Build More Cooperation

Sometimes parenting just seems like a game…that you can never win.

The other team has more energy, more time, and more players. To help parents improve the odds, we’ve come up with some new “game plans" that might even the score. 

Follow the Leader is a parenting tool that can be used in two ways:

 As a game; and as a “redirection" tool. When using this tool as a game, parents can invite their children to play “follow the leader.“ This game is fun on family trips or vacations. Families with more than one child can have each child take turns leading the family hike or singing a song. The leader has the power to choose which forest path to take or which song to sing. Each child (and parent) gets the opportunity to be the leader, thereby encouraging equality and fairness. When used as a “redirection” tool controlling children can be direct their need to take charge of a particular task, such as getting the family together for dinner or organizing a wood gathering party for the campfire. This is a great game to replace power-struggling.

Freeze Play is a parenting tool variation of the old stand-by: Time-Out

Time-out is usually conducted by isolating or excluding a child from the rest of the family or classroom. In this traditional form children are sent to their room, a chair in the kitchen, outside the classroom door, or left facing a wall. Time-Out has a number of disadvantages, the primary one being that it involves the use of punishment that may seem harsh to some parents and children. Some children may become out-of-control or physically destructive when put in isolation or exclusion time-out. Fortunately, parents can use a different form of time-out, that behaviorists call “nonexclusionary time-out.“

Nonexclusionary time-out, like isolation and exclusionary time-out, eliminates reinforces (interaction with others). It accomplishes this by freezing the moment of interaction with the child for a very brief, but poignant amount of time. For example, if a child starts whining when told they must wait for dinner to eat, the parent can firmly but evenly, say, “freeze!” The parent then avoids eye contact (i.e., attention during the discipline) for a few seconds and the child is prohibited from communicating during this time. Afterwards the parent can nonchalantly carry on the task at hand or use Time-In or educational parenting tool. Be careful not to place too much emphasis on talking about the misbehavior afterwards as it might inadvertently reinforce the child to misbehave again for the attention it gains.

It might be necessary for the parent to tell the child what is going to happen during “freeze play" and the expectation that there will be no communication/eye contact during that time, so that the child knows why the parent is “acting this way.“ In addition, the old rule of thumb for time-out, one minute for every year of life, can be used in Freeze Play by substituting seconds for minutes (e.g., one frozen second for every year of life.) 

Huddling is a parenting tool shorten version of a family meeting without all the fuss or preparation time.

Huddling is a quick, informal, type of family meeting that any number of family members can have together and can occur at any time or place. Football players do this before every play to make sure the team knows what the plan is and to make clear everyone’s job. Family members can stop whatever they are doing to have a quick, little meeting about a specific problem or task. Parents can play the captain by telling the family to “huddle together.” Put arms around one another for support or just gather together in a circle, face in. Talk about the problem or task and assign jobs or ask for quick input. Decide on a plan of action and say “let’ go!“ Parents can use this tool at the zoo to decide what they are going to go see first, at the restaurant to decide what everyone wants to eat, and at home to decide what toys need to be gathered up before going to the park. While these “game plans” don’t guarantee a winning season, they can coach parents on new ways to improve their performance and their satisfaction in parenting.

OK, let’s play!

 

Share your thoughts on these three power parenting tools by leaving a comment here or on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox

 

You can get more quick tips to change your family dynamics and have the family you dreamed about by contacting Ron now! Click here for more information.

Do you know your child’s Love Language?

To love and be loved is the most basic of all human needs. People will go to extremes to get this need met. It forms the basis of the world’s religions. Society has capitalized on it commercially through the marketing of Hallmark cards, chocolate candy and diamond rings. Whatever its form or expression, getting the love you need and sharing it with others is a life-long process.

 One of the best books on the subject, for me, was the book “The Five Love Languages”by Dr. Gary Chapman. In a very practical manner he listed the five love languages as:

1. Words of Affirmation

2. Receiving Gifts

3. Quality Time

4. Acts of Service

5. Physical Touch

 According to the author, every one seeks to get their love needs met through these five areas. Some of us have more dominant love needs through positive words of affirmation while others feel more love through the application of touch. Regardless of the specific dialects you might speak, all of us have one or more of these basic elements in our emotional vocabulary.  

 One of the easiest ways to determine someone’s love language is to observe how they express love. We tend to speak love to others in the way we want to be spoken to. This can result in frustration for people in close relationships who persist in expressing love in ways that met their own needs but don’t take into account the language of the other person. For example, my wife might like acts of service to fulfill her needs for love while I like to receive gifts. Bringing her candy and flowers for Valentines Day might be appreciated but it will not have the same impact as cooking her dinner and drawing a bath.

Take a moment to remember the last time someone did something for you that made you feel loved. How did that action fit into the five love languages? Was it a hug? An evening out? A gift? An act of service? A kind word?

Take another moment to analyze the love needs of those closest to you? How do they fit into these five love languages? It might be more than one. Have you spoken this language in a way that meets others needs?

An unsolicited endorsement by Kathleen Karns of the Toddler Tamer.

“Raising a family today can be an almost overwhelming challenge with the diverse differences in the family both socially and culturally. We are a society of single parent families and mixed families that do not fit within the parameters of the traditional, two parent family. When tackling everything from step-parenting to behavioral problems with children, the unprepared parent can feel as though they are drowning.

To provide solutions for this social chaos, family therapist Ron Huxley enters the fray with his phenomenal system called the Parenting Toolbox. By utilizing the vast array of services and educational tools available with a subscription to www.parentingtoolbox.com, struggling parents can find the information and resources that will equip them to face the challenges associated with raising their children in today’s world. The Parenting Toolbox offers an array of tools that will enable you to become a better parent:

  1. Knowing that the most important role that you can have in life is being a parent and learning to express the value of parenthood everyday provides the beginning steps to face all of the challenges that children can bring into life.
  2. You will learn new and variable ways of disciplining children without always resorting to corporal punishment that will stimulate the mind and instill respect.
  3. Either open or improve the lines of communication between parents and their children.
  4. You will be able to learn what more about the ways you were brought up affect the way you raise you own children and provide the means to change these parental patterns.
  5. Not only will your own self-esteem get a boost that it needs, you will be able to teach your children about their own innate value.
  6. Parents are given healthy ways to deal with their anger and stress in ways that will be helpful and non-abusive.
  7. Creative strategies are introduced to deal with challenging behaviors in children in safe and productive ways.
  8. Games, puzzles, and other creative exercises both strengthen the parent’s ability to communicate important concepts to the child but also enable the child’s ability to think and reason in social settings.
  9. Parents no longer have to be in the dark when it comes to ways to raise their children that will promote spiritual growth. Parents can learn ways to incorporate their spiritual heritage into the lessons and sources provided by the parenting toolbox.
  10. More than this, Ron Huxley and the parenting toolbox will equip you with something even more valuable: guaranteed life long support. This is the real commitment that parentingtoolbox.com makes. It will be there through every stage of a child’s development to provide not only just the right tools to make you a better parent but also support through groups of parents and professionals who have been there before.

Whatever the situation, you will be able to count on the resources of this amazing system to give what you need when you need it.”

How has this blog helped you? Leave a comment here or on Facebook at http;//www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox

Living with Siblings With Disabilities in Special Needs Families

Family And Disability – Special Needs Families

“Don’t Forget about Me!”

I have often mentioned the social-emotional journey toward the acceptance of a learning disability (LD) and shared information and resources that were intended to help adults work though the complex emotions that go hand in hand with having a child who struggles with learning. The feedback I received (thank you to all who wrote to share your first-hand experiences and to offer ideas for future discussion) reminded me how important it is to also recognize the experience of other family members, particularly siblings, whose lives are affected, often in dramatic ways, by living with an individual with LD.

Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

Raising children is a wonderful journey that has rewards and challenges every step along the way. Parenting children with special needs (whether they have health issues, problems with learning and behavior, and even exceptional abilities) is especially labor intensive. The attention and energy expended to meet these special needs and keep a healthy balance between home and school can be all-consuming and at times exhausting. As a consequence of this day-in and day-out juggling act, the feelings and needs of non-disabled siblings might be unintentionally overlooked.

Video: A Family of Brothers

Four brothers, two with learning disabilities, talk about how they support each other. Watch now >

Made possible by a grant from the Oak Foundation.

Being on “LD alert” 24/7 can be very tiring, and parental stress and fatigue alone takes a toll on siblings who continually have to figure out how they fit into the flow of family activity and emotions and how their needs for attention, approval and assistance can be met. With parents needing to devote additional time and resources to helping one child, the overall family dynamic is easily thrown off balance.

Siblings Have Feelings, Too

What could siblings be thinking and feeling as they watch their brother or sister struggle with learning? If they could find the right words, they might touch upon the very same emotions that were described by a psychologist in the 1940s who proposed a model of understanding human behavior. This ‘hierarchy of needs’ can readily be used to understand some of the emotions that need to be appreciated, understood and addressed by parents and other adults in order to help siblings cope with feelings of anger, jealousy, worry, guilt, and embarrassment that comprise their personal “baggage” as siblings and family members.

Physiology (having to do with comfort and the physical body)

  • “How come he gets more hugs than I do? And for things that are expected of everyone, like finishing homework!”

Safety (dealing with the need to be protected from harm)

  • “Why can’t he make his own sandwich? He just needs to be careful with the bread knife.
  • "What’s the big deal about him riding his bike to school?”

Belongingness and love (feeling attachment to others)

  • “It seems like she’s always the first one to get attention.”
  • “I’m always doing things for her; when was the last time she did something for me?”

Esteem (having your thoughts and actions valued by others)

  • “If you ask me, I’d tell you that you need to back off a little; you’re doing things for him that he should be doing for himself.”
  • “What about my report card? Pretty good, huh?”

Knowledge and understanding (seeking information)

  • “When will her LD go away?”
  • “Is she ever going to be able to do her work on her own?”

Aesthetic (deriving pleasure and triggering emotion)

  • “He’s got a great laugh, even though his sense of humor is weird.”
  • “I wish I knew how to really help him when he’s feeling down on himself.”

Self-actualization (having “peak experiences” that provide self-fulfillment)

  • “I know we’re very different, but we’ll always be there to support each other.”
  • “They said he couldn’t learn how to play guitar, and I taught him!”

Transcendence (connecting to something beyond yourself to help others)

  • “Everyone deserves to be appreciated for who they are and not just what they can do.”
  • “I know how important it is to spend time with him and his friends; they really look up to me and know that I will treat them with respect (even though they can be annoying and immature at times).”

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How can I raise a gracious loser?

While it’s perfectly natural for your child to be disappointed when she loses something she’s worked hard for, like the championship soccer game, it is important for her to learn to accept loss without feelings of bitterness or low self-esteem. A child who doesn’t learn to lose graciously has a hard time making friends and is often frustrated by failures. Here are some ways to encourage a sourpuss to sweeten up.

  • Play on your child’s sense of empathy. At this age, she’s starting to develop the ability to put herself in another person’s place. She can now begin to understand that getting angry when she doesn’t win hurts the feelings of the people she’s playing with. Ask her to think about how it would feel if someone got angry at her when she did something she was proud of. Tell her that it’s okay to be sad about losing, but she should try not to hurt others because of it.
  • Play cooperative games. Noncompetitive games eliminate winning and losing altogether and help your child learn what it’s like to play on a team. Try hitting a balloon back and forth, or play a game of Chinese checkers in which the idea is to get your marbles on her side and hers on your side at roughly the same time. As children get older, they will have to start playing with teammates to accomplish a common goal, and cooperative games give them a great foundation for this.
  • Emphasize effort, skill, and fun. It’s trite but true: “It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game.” Your job is to get your child to take this adage to heart. After she plays a game with a friend, ask, “Did you have a good time?” instead of “Who won?” Offer praise for anything done well, no matter how small it may seem. The more you can get your child thinking about developing the skills needed to be a good player — regardless of the outcome — the less important winning becomes.
  • Teach your child how to win and lose well. Show her what it means to be a good winner and a good loser. Tell her that good winners don’t brag about victories or make fun of another player’s skills. And help her become a good loser by giving her opportunities to lose as she plays against you. It seems harsh, but she’ll never learn the skill if she doesn’t practice it. Most important, don’t let her see you being a poor sport. Take your losses well, and always congratulate the winner.

If your child regularly “loses it” when she loses, you might need to take a break from game playing altogether. Turn the focus to other areas of her life that she can feel good about. And teach her that mistakes are okay by not reacting harshly when she makes one. For example, instead of getting angry about a bad grade in school, talk about what she can do to do better. In time, you should see some improvement.

Share your parent tools on how to raise a gracious loser at http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox

Hottest Parenting Tools of 2012

Here’s a list of the hottest parenting tools posted on this blog during 2012. Read and enjoy…see you next year, in 2013, for more tips for parents:

25 Ways To Talk So Children Will Listen

Dream Parenting: Doing More of What Works

Cannibas and the Adolescent Brain

Parenting A Child With Anxiety

Co-Parenting After a Seperation or Divorce

Father’s Day Quotes: Best Sayings About Dads

The Terrible Two’s: Myth or Reality?

Chidren and Grief

Real World Stress Tips for Parents

Moral Development of Children

And the all-time, reader favorite of 2012 is…

10 Habits for a Well-Run Home

 

 

 

 

 

Dream Parenting: It’s 80% Atmosphere

After being in the parenting education field for over two decades I have come to realize that the most effective parenting strategies are those that focus on the atmosphere in the home and not behavior modification of children. If you want to create the family of your dreams, you have to spend more time on changing the atmosphere in your home. Too many parenting programs focus on manipulating children’s behavior to gain compliance. They strive for a position of leverage of parent over child that often ends up in child over parent. The objective is to make the parent more powerful and the more children submissive. This might work in the short run but after a while the home has a negative atmosphere that suffocates everyone!


A friend of mine sent me a comic strip that said: “Don’t yell at your kids. Lean in and whisper. It is much scarier.” There is some truth to this pictorial pun as so many parents rely on force of will and voice instead of building relationship and attachment. Of course there are times where you will have to stand your ground with a child. You absolutely need to give consequences for inappropriate behavior but you cannot do this without some sort of emotional balance. Over time, the more you order your child around and expect blind obedience or choose to yell louder because obviously he wasn’t listening the first time, will create a climate of hostility and resentment. Is this the type of dream home you were picturing?

Research on attachment and neuroscience validates this need for emotional balance. Children with secure attachment styles are more cooperative, make better morale decisions, perform better in school, and have more empathy toward others, just to name a few positive qualities. Children without healthy attachment styles appear to have little conscience, poor academic performance, and severe behavioral problems. Although these are two parenting extremes, my personal observations are that most parents lean to the lack of emotional warmth and attachment style of parenting. Spending a half hour coloring with a child or watching a cartoon with them once in a while will not make up for hours of yelling and power struggling. 

To achieve this type of dream family, you have to wake up in the morning with a dedicated intentionality to shift the atmosphere in your home. Call this new idea your new parenting mission statement. Call it whatever you want, but you have to make it job number one until you achieve the home life you have dreamt about. You cannot begin the day thinking about how you will “get” someone to do what you want him or her to do today. Although you need to get your child to school on time and you may need to get all the days chores completed, you have to keep the bigger picture in mind that you are going to create a new and better atmosphere along the way. 

In order to change an atmosphere, you have to start working with your child from the inside out. Put your emphasis on their internal motivations and not on behavioral expectations. This will require you to spend some time getting to know your child better. Really, getting to know them. This will cost you time and energy from other tasks like laundry, work or television programs. Yes, television! It will also cost you some preconceived ideas about what it means to be a “good parent” in today’s society (we aren’t going to go into those today however). 

When heated moments come up with your child, and they will, you have to kneel down, look your child in the eye, and whisper words of direction and encouragement. As the comic strip suggested, this may be scary to your child, not because of the evil tone you take in your whisper but because they have never heard you lower your voice and talk in such an intimate manner. This is guaranteed to get their attention!

You also have to start a practice of nurturing your family members “inner gold” to see a substantial return on relational investments. This will require you to focus on the atmosphere of your home more than control strategies or chore charts. Try making a chart of each person’s unique qualities and attributes. I know you may have to think long and hard but anything is worth noting. Once you have a list of them, how can you create an atmosphere to build on those qualities? What encouragement can you give each family member? How do family members talk to one another? What will make your home safe enough for the other family members to put this precious trait or gift out in the open for examine and nurturing? Once you have started this process, most of the battles you have been (unsuccessfully) fighting will no longer necessary. 

Spend 80% of your time developing this atmosphere. The other 20% can be spent on chore charts. Here’s a quick example about how this can benefit mom, dad and the kids:

Johnny is the typical teen. He has a habit of putting his large feet on the coffee table. Mom doesn’t like his size 13 feet on the table and this turns into a huge argument every day. Mom now decides to change the atmosphere or to be more specific, change the living room. Now, there is no coffee table. It holds mom’s quite holiday items in the back room. Mom sits on the couch and asks Johnny about his day. He mumbles in confusion at this new tactic mom is taking. Mom shows empathy for his long day at school and sport practices after school. She offers to make him a snack and sits back down and eats it with him instead of complaining how this snack will ruin dinner. She also hasn’t commented once about how his feet stink after practice. He lets slip that a friend got dumped by his girlfriend. Mom never moralizes or tries to teach a lesson on how to treat a girl. Instead she asks questions to encourage more conversation from Johnny and just says ‘Uh-huh" to the parts of the conversation she has an opinion about. Frequently, mom states: “Tell me more…” about parts of the story to draw about out more conversation and information. After the snack is over, Johnny surprisingly takes his plate to the kitchen without mom “reminding” him to do it. Maybe it is because there was no coffee table to leave it on but mom is just glad to not have the battle with him. Mom gives Johnny a choice to work on homework before or after dinner time instead of telling him to get it done now since he just had a snack. Johnny just walks to his room to start on it, slightly bewildered by what just happened but with a smile on his face.

Here’s another example:

Sally is just 6 years old and very impulsive. She often runs instead of walks, leaves her toys all over the place and rarely finishes a project once started. Trying to get her to eat her dinner without talking or getting up from the table is a constant source of frustration for her parents. Dad decides to try something different and instead of yelling at Sally to pick up her toys or not run through the house, he puts left over toys into a “buy back bin”. When Sally completes her dinner without getting up from the table, he lets her “buy back” her toys to play with. If she doesn’t sit with the family, they stay in the bin over night for safe keeping. Tomorrow is another day and another practice at sitting down during dinner. When Sally runs through the house, dad asks her to do a “redo.” Sally has to go back from where she ran from and “redo” this behavior by walking. This seems to work well for Sally, not just in the area of running, but in many behavioral areas she struggles with. When Sally talks at the dinner table, dad doesn’t remind her for the hundredth time to be quiet and eat her food, he engages her in more conversation. Sally loves this opportunity for attention and finishes her food in record time which has been another source of contention with her parents. She even ate her broccoli which she said tastes like dirt. After dinner, mom and dad turn off the television and wait on doing the dishes till she is asleep. Instead they work on her homework together versus having her sit at the kitchen table alone to do it and then they read a book and get ready for bed. They make getting on her pajamas a race between her and mom to see who can change the quickest. Sally always wins and gets 17 kisses as her prize. They have a set routine ever night now instead of bedtime being somewhere between 8 and 10 pm! Now mom and dad have more time together too. 

* The two examples above utilize Parenting Toolbox tools entitled: Talk Tools, Moving the Furniture, Time Cushions, Choices, Redo’s, Energy Drains, Homework Hassle Helpers, Following the Leader, and Bedtime Routines. You can get them and more by ordering my ebook here!

Take a moment right now to reflect on the current atmosphere in your home. Is it warm and cozy or cold and unbearable? What is one thing you can do differently by changing up the tone, routine or focusing on the inner “gold” of your child? How can you work with your child’s behavior instead of against it? What new tool or tip can you incorporate versus yelling louder? What needs to be physically moved, turned off or reordered to bring a more positive atmosphere in your home?

Share your successes and frustrations by posting a comment on our Facebook page here!

Positive and negative changes after trauma | Psychology Today

Trauma can shatter peoples’ world assumptions. In the process of rebuilding an assumptive world people often report ways in which they change positively. It is becoming increasingly important to integrate this idea into trauma work.
To help do this my colleagues and I have developed a new self-report psychometric tool – the Psychological Well-Being Post-Traumatic Changes Questionnaire (PWB-PTCQ) with which to assess positive changes following trauma.

To illustrate, a sample six items are shown below.

Read each statement below and rate how you have changed as a result of the trauma.

5 = much more so now

4 = A bit more so now

3 = I feel the same about this as before

2 – A bit less so now

1 = Much less so now

1. I like myself____

2. I have confidence in my opinions____

3. I have a sense of purpose in life____

4. I have strong and close relationships in my life____

5. I feel I am in control of my life____

6. I am open to new experiences that challenge me____

Responses to these statements provide an opportunity for people to reflect on how they have changed. 

Did you score over 3 on any of the items? 

Can you think of think of one or two examples in your life that illustrate these changes?

Are there things you can do in the coming weeks that will help you build on and strengthen these changes?

Clinicians will also find the new tool useful as it allows them to bridge their traditional concerns of psychological suffering with the new psychology of posttraumatic growth. The full scale is 18 items so it is not too time consuming and can be used alongside traditional measures of PTSD.

This is not the first such measure of positive changes to have been developed. But there is a difference.

Those of us who study positive changes following adversity are sometimes criticised for offering an unrealistically optimistic view of the world. I don’t think this is true as the literature makes it clear that change can also be in a negative direction. But the critics may be right that this needed to be more fairly recognised in our measurement tools. 

At any single point in time people will have changed in either negative or positive ways.

But existing measures do not offer the opportunity for people to say how they have changed in a negative direction as well as in a positive direction.

Thus, an important and novel aspect of this new instrument is that it recognises that people may also experience themselves as having changed in negative ways.

Did you score under 3 on any of the items?

If you scored under 3 on one or more of the items, is this causing you considerable problems at home or at work?  Is it leading to significant difficulties with family, friends or colleagues?  Have you tried dealing with the problems already, maybe through reading self-help or talking to others? If so, it may be appropriate to seek professional advice.

So as well as giving indications of how people may grow following trauma the PWB-PTCQ can also help people understand the ways in which they need to look after themselves better or flag up areas in which they might need professional help.

The full questionnaire is described in my new book, What Doesn’t Kill Us: The New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth http://www.whatdoesntkillus.com.

But the book does not go into full technical detail on its psychometric development. For those who do want to learn more the research paper describing the development of the new tool is now available online in the journal Psychological Trauma http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2011-17454-001/

In the paper we describe the logic behind the questionnaire, its advantages and the research showing its reliability and validity.

I hope this work will interest people. I am always eager to meet new research collaborators – there is so much more yet to be done in this field – so if this new tool does spark some interest in you to use in your own research or clinic please do get in touch.

Ron Huxley’s Reaction: It is good to see a “strength-based” approach to trauma. Trauma has many negative impacts in someones life but it is not destiny. Many people do become stronger and more resilient following a traumatic event. How would score yourself on the measures listed above?

10 Tools for Positive Attachment | Psychology Today

It’s never too late to have a close relationship with someone you love. If you had a connection before, you can have it again. If you need a model for building a good relationship, consider what the word “attachment” spells out:

A: Attachment is about creating a bond with those you love. It requires that you accept life’s imperfections and get okay with things being “good enough.” When you have a good attachment with the ones you love almost any obstacle can be overcome.

T: Touch is a very important part of being attached. If you’re not getting enough, talk with your mate about it. Physical connection is a necessary part of creating a healthy attachment. If you don’t want or need to be touched, that’s okay, but if your partner isn’t on the same page, it will chip away at your foundation.

T: Thoughtfulness means that, even in times of strife, you somehow always manage to consider your partner first. You need to want your partner to be happy, and thinking about him or her should make you happy.

A: Affirming verbally how you feel is very important for many people. To never hear “I love you” from your mate can leave you feeling as though you are not truly wanted. Many men and women need to hear they are valued. This is a case where actions do not speak louder than words.

C: Connecting with your partner by looking into his or her eyes, holding hands, and just saying “thank you for being in my life” or holding each other tightly for several minutes are both powerful tools. Give them a shot.

H: Hoping for a better tomorrow is critical for relationships that are in healing mode. If you both honestly commit to working on your relationship together, you will have the best chance of getting through a rough patch.

M: Memories of happier times will help you find the strength you need to get things back on track if you have lost your feelings of attachment. Knowing that you were once in love can give you the motivation you need to find it again.

E: Emotional availability and support are the cornerstones of a loving intimate relationship. Your partner needs to know that you’re going to be there for him or her.

N: Needing another person is not a sign of weakness. Yes, people can be too needy, and insecure behavior can make it difficult for a couple to bond appropriately. But everyone needs to feel valued and that his or her feelings won’t be dismissed.

T: Trusting that you are loved is essential. If you have any doubts, it’s best to sit down and talk about them. Communicating, verbally and nonverbally, is the best tool for creating what you want.

After a little time, what you may find is that your partner isn’t perfect and neither are you. Of course, that means that your relationship isn’t perfect either. It is, however, good enough.

Ron Huxley’s Additions: As a family therapist, parenting educator and parents, I welcome any movements toward building strong families. It is what the Parenting Toolbox web site has always been about. These 10 tools give some great advice on how to establish the building blocks of relationships. It is actually based on some serious science but that isn’t important here. Practice these parenting tools today.