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6 Tips to A New Year & A New You for 2017
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Research has shown that as many as 45% of us make New Year’s resolutions, but only about 8% are actually successful in achieving them! And it seems that age is a factor with about 39% of people in their twenties achieving their goals. Since old habits are hard to break and new ones are hard to maintain, I offer the following tips to help you succeed:
Set reasonable expectations.
Too often we set the bar too high, and if you set unrealistic goals, you will be doomed from the start. You will find yourself feeling discouraged, lacking motivation and eventually giving up. So, be reasonable with your expectations – instead of a goal to lose 50 pounds, try to lose 5 or 10 and then reassess from there. If you believe your goal is attainable, then you will be more driven to meet it.
Make one change at a time.
It is hard enough to focus on making one positive change at a time, so do not overload yourself with several resolutions. While getting more organized, losing weight, quitting smoking or drinking or saving money may all be things that you would like to do, tackling resolutions en masse is a bad idea. Instead, tackling goals one by one will be far less overwhelming and will improve your chances of success. January is not the only time of year for you to resolve to improve your life; once you meet one meaningful goal, then plan to tackle another. As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” — but over time, it turned out to be a pretty spectacular city.
Determine an action plan.
Without an action plan or a roadmap, achieving a new year’s resolution will be difficult to impossible. Thus, knowing and preparing for the steps you will need to take to meet your goal is essential. So, if your goal is to be healthier, define the steps to get there- eat fruits and vegetables daily, get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, drink alcohol in moderation, schedule your annual physical, etc. A resolution without an action plan or roadmap is merely wishful thinking.
Develop a support system.
If you are committed to making a change, share your plan with your family and friends. They can help push you and encourage you along the way. Some goals may be too big to face alone, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, so perhaps joining a support group in your area or online could be helpful. In a support group, you will find fellowship and comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Talking to people who are struggling to make the same changes as you can help you move forward to meet your goal more efficiently.
Recognize the positive changes you have made and reward yourself along the way. Take pride in your accomplishments and share your progress with others. Once you pass certain milestones, recognize that moment with a treat; By rewarding yourself for meeting your goal, you will have something to look forward to in addition to the self-satisfaction you will feel with your accomplishment.
Do not beat yourself up for being human if you struggle. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” So, if you fall off track, be flexible and do not lose sight of your goals. Evaluate your progress and think about where you failed and adjust your action plan or roadmap to something that is more attainable. Research in this area has shown that people who are positive achieve their goals more successfully than people who are negative.
Research has also shown that 25% of us abandon our new year’s resolutions just a week into January, so being mindful and committed to your plan will be important. While several factors have been found to influence habit formation and change, discipline and self-control are the two most important — being moderate, knowing your vulnerabilities, and delaying gratification will take great effort but will matter a lot.
We could all benefit from making some changes in our lives, so take advantage of the tradition of new year’s resolutions to look back on the past year and assess something about yourself to improve upon in the year ahead. Here’s to a new year and a new you in 2017!
Dr. Michael Oberschneider, a Clinical Psychologist, fondly called Dr. Mike by some of his youngest patients, is the Founder and Director of Ashburn Psychological & Psychiatric Services. As a mental health expert, Dr. Oberschneider has been featured on CNN Nightly News, Good Morning America, NPR, WTOP, and several other media outlets. Plus, in acknowledgment for his work with children and teens, Dr. Mike received the esteemed recognition of Top Therapist (July 2009) by Washingtonian magazine.
In 2016 Dr. Oberschneider added the title of children’s author to his resume with the debut of Ollie Outside, a book encouraging screen-free fun. This unique publication challenges children to think how Ollie can get his family to shut off their gadgets and play together.
Ashburn Psychological & Psychiatric Services is located at 44095 Pipeline Plaza, Ste. 240, Ashburn, VA 20147. To learn more about Dr. Oberschneider and his practice, connect: Online | Facebook | (703) 723-2999.
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