Doing Life Together

ID-10063241-2Families are busy and when there is a little down time, kids usually grab their screens and engage in solo play. If they are on social media, they may have a number of “friends” but these are not deep friendships and may even interfere with developing solid social skills.

We know that having a best friend helps children with stress, loneliness and bullying. Friends help prevent depression and anxiety as well. So what can you do to help your child develop friendships? Here are 10 tips to teach your child:

1) Be friendly. Greet people with a smile. Give eye contact, speak so they can hear you. if you are friendly, you are more approachable.

2) Ask questions. Sometimes this is called, “being a detective.” You get to know people by asking them about themselves. One of the best ways to get to know someone is to ask questions.

3) Find a friend who shares their interests. When my daughter was dancing, her best friends were fellow dancers because they spent so much time together at the studio and loved to dance. Encourage your child to find friends who have similar interests.

4) Be positive and compliment often. No one likes a child who is negative and doesn’t have good things to say about others. Teach your child to focus on the positive and say encouraging things to others.

5) Teach skills of compromise and flexibility. Best friends don’t always get their own way or need to be right. They value the friendship and are willing to accommodate the other. A friend who can compromise and be flexible is someone people like.

6) Listen to others and forgive often. People make mistakes and need grace and forgiveness. A friend is someone who listens to another person and is quick to forgive and move towards repairing the relationship.

7) Help your child deal with rejection. There are many opportunities in any relationship for rejection to manifest. This will happen–not getting picked for a team, not invited to a party, etc. But friends support each other and don’t have to be a part of everything the other person does. Help your child understand that best friend doesn’t mean exclusive friend.

8) Teach your child to serve others. Rather than looking at a friendship for what it can do for me, teach your child the power of service to others.

9) Play cooperatively. No one likes a friend who is constantly arguing or grabbing power. Friends get along and cooperate with each other.

10) Be kind to others. Kindness begets kindness and is backed by research in terms of helping a child be liked. This is a life skill that begins at a young age and needs to be modeled and taught.




When you hear that phrase, what goes through your mind? Take the short quiz here and see how you deal with conflict. Now that you know your primary style, let me ask you a few more questions:

1. How do you feel when you watch or participate in conflict?

2. Are you comfortable with the idea that conflict is a part of life?

3. Do you avoid conflict at all costs?

4. Do you care more about winning than the person involved in the conflict?

5. Do you wish you had better skills?

6, Do you want to handle conflict in a way that is healthy, not problematic?

7. Are you tired of being angry or upset with someone?

8. Is there a difficult person in your life that is driving you nuts?

9. Would you rather cut off a relationship than work though it?

If any of these questions resonate with you, We Need to Talk will be an important tool in helping to make your relationships work.

In We Need to Talk, my hope is you will find yourself readjusting your expectations and becoming more flexible. Most of all, you will learn to approach relationships with the idea that conflict can be managed, tolerated, and handled. Finally, you will become more skillful at knowing how to promote relationship reconciliation and repair the damage we sometimes do to each other. In the end, the words “We need to talk” won’t send chills down your spine or make you want to run for the hills!


Dr. Linda Mintle’s new book, We Need to Talk is now in stores. Learn how to successfully navigate conflict in your relationships.


ID-100105897Jack was the victim of child abuse growing up. Then, his mother died and he became a ward of the state, in and out of foster homes. His childhood was not only filled with abuse and trauma, but abandonment. As an adult, he suffered from depression and anxiety.

Many people have stories like Jack’s –some less traumatic like growing up in a home with a depressed mom, an alcoholic dad, critical parents who fought continuously,etc. We know the psychological and emotional fall out of such events, but what about the physical effects of trauma, abuse, and psychiatric disorders?

A new study gives credence to the idea that a rough childhood ages a person on the cellular level. The study published in Biological Psychiatry looked at 299 healthy adults and assessed them for  psychiatric disorder diagnoses and childhood histories of  adversity like abuse, neglect and parental loss.

What researchers found was that childhood stress and psychiatric disorders were linked to cellular changes, especially those who experienced major depression and anxiety disorders, parental loss or childhood maltreatment. When researchers analyzed DNA,  specific cellular changes important to the aging process were found. Thus, childhood adversity may accelerate the aging process.

This study supports the idea that we have to be better at preventing childhood maltreatment and help children deal with significant loss and trauma at an early age.


Source: Audrey R. Tyrka, Stephanie H. Parade, Lawrence H. Price, Hung-Teh Kao, Barbara Porton, Noah S. Philip, Emma S. Welch, Linda L. Carpenter. Alterations of Mitochondrial DNA Copy Number and Telomere Length with Early Adversity and Psychopathology. Biological Psychiatry, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.12.025

ID-10041651Please, put away your cell phone! We are eating dinner. 

Get off the video game now. You have homework to do. 

How many hours have you spent on Facebook? How about a real conversation?

I admit, I tend to focus on the negative impact of too much screen time. We know, from studies, that too much screen time can lead to every thing from obesity to impaired brain function. But are there any upsides to screen time?

Like most things, even screen time is not all bad. Although I will say that an excess of screen time and what you do on screen time do matter.

Sandra Calvert, director of Georgetown University’s Children’s Digital Media Center, says screen time can boost two executive function skills in the brain–reasoning and problem-solving. She also notes that when games like MIT-developed, Scratch, are played, a child’s hand-eye coordination and logic skills can improve.

Nicholas Carr, author of The Glass Cage, believes visual acuity gets better.

Addressing possible positive social effects of screen time, Lee Humphreys, associate professor of communications at Cornell University believes people can spend well meaning time on screens. She doesn’t see screen time as a complete blockage of all social engagement, reminding us that people have used media to isolate before. Think hiding behind a newspaper or book when you didn’t want to interact with others.

Still, I add caution to these positives because of what we know about brain changes related to excess screen time. Excess screen time can lead to kids who are moody, impulsive and attention challenged. And the multiple studies that show atrophy of gray matter in the brain, can’t be denied. And so it goes… best advice is still the biblical one. Moderation in all things.