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New Year – New Beginnings – Better You

recycle-1000785_1920The end of 2015 has arrived and what a year it has been! I love New Years because I love the idea of a new beginning. I like many others’ like to make New Year resolutions. I determine what my intentions for the coming year will be by reflecting on where I fell short over the last twelve months. After much reflection, it embarrasses me to admit that the area where I need the most improvement involves how I handle conflicts in my personal life. Despite my education in conflict management, I still find myself struggling to overcome certain behaviors when in the face of conflict. In this post, I want to share my shortcomings from 2015, and how I plan to make adjustments in the upcoming year.

In 2015, I was impatient. Over the course of this year, I pushed for the people I love to talk and discuss issues sometimes before they were ready because I was impatient and felt uncomfortable with lingering conflict not being resolved. I found my impatience brought about irritability and stress in my life which affected some of my relationships with others.

In 2016, I will be patient. I will practice slowing down and being more mindful of other’s needs. When I am feeling impatient about resolving a conflict that involves me either directly or indirectly, I want to slow down, take some deep breaths and acknowledge my impatience and what is causing it. I can write this in my journal or just self-reflect. After that, I will practice empathy and examine what may be causing them to be hesitant with me. My goal is to gain perspective that will allow me to be more patient with others.

In 2015, I was blunt. I have a sharp tongue, and I dislike beating around the bush. I like people to be straight with me. Therefore, I extend the same courtesy to others. However, this can be problematic because although I’m honest and point out the truth, saying it bluntly can hurt people’s feelings.

In 2016, I will think before I speak. I will practice not saying the first thing that comes to my mind and taking the extra time to think about what I am going to say before I say it. My goal is that I can articulate my points in such a way that it is honest but doesn’t hurt other’s feelings.

In 2015, I was reactive and emotional. I don’t always react or handle situations well; especially when I am stressed. I raise my voice, and I can get frustrated easily. I was naïve to think that only I was aware of this. Just before our wedding, when stress levels were high, several members of my bridal party started their questions off to me with “I was nervous about bringing this up to you but…” It was a huge wake-up call for me that the people I love were anxious to talk to me because they were worried about how I would react.

In 2016, I will be responsive. I will practice being more mindful of my emotions, speaking softer, and being more approachable. My goal is that I learn to handle stress and conflicts better so that no one feels nervous about approaching me.   If an issue arises, I first want to be aware of what I am feeling, and acknowledge it; again, I can write in my journal or self-reflect. Lastly, I will concentrate on the solution, instead of focusing on the problem. It will take less time, resolve more quickly, and I will feel less frustrated.

Your new beginnings and new you begin with an honest assessment of the areas on which you need to improve. I hope my reflections for 2015 will inspire you to develop a plan to make changes in 2016.

 

Happy New Year,

Abigail R.C McManus

Apprentice

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Is your teen being moody? Or are they being bullied? Tips and Strategies for parents whose teens may be victims of bullying

t1larg.cyber.bullying.gi-1Bullying has become one of the biggest topics of conversation in today’s education system. Bullying caused conflict between two or more students and left unresolved, can result in severe consequences. According to Dosomething.org, “Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year”. Dosomething.org also points out “Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse”. Teens may not be reporting their abuse to their parents. Therefore, the parents may have no idea it is occurring until it is too late. While I am not a parent, I would feel in these situations both helpless and hurt if my child was being bullied and I had no idea. I have brainstormed below some tips and strategies for parents whose teens may be victims of bullying and what they can do to assist their teen in managing these conflicts.

  1. Talk to your adolescents. I know teenagers are challenging during this period of their life when they are changing daily and regularly pushing the boundaries of freedom. But, parents you need to talk with your kids, even if it’s small talk about the mundane events of their lives. Keeping lines of communication open are necessary because if your child feels they cannot disclose information to you then they won’t.
  2. Keep your cool. If your child does open up about the conflicts they are experiencing in school, jumping into protective parent mode could make your child hesitant to tell you things in the future. Keep in mind, involving your parents is uncool during your teen years. Instead, brainstorm with your teen constructive ways to manage their conflict that does not involve contacting the other parents or administration.
  3. Be observant of your child’s behavior and temperaments. I know irritability and mood swings are typical in teenagers, but if your teen withdraws, or their personality makes an 180° turn, then that is cause for concern. Take notice if your child appears more upset after texting on her phone or using the computer, cyber bullying has become a serious issue in today’s society. If your teen seems more upset than usual after using these technologies, someone could be harassing him or her.
  4. Take a timeout from social media. Teens are spending a lot more time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Surfing the sites to see what their friends are doing can be very addicting. Parents suggest to your teen that they take a break for a couple of hours each week. Unlike back in the day, when students were being bullied, they could escape from it when they went home. Technology has allowed bullies to enter into the home and continue their harassment of your teen. Requesting your teen take some time away from social media could assist them from getting away from their bully.
  5. Teach your teen how to manage conflict constructively. Conflict does not have to be a bad thing. Teaching your teen to confront their bully, without violence can be a confidence booster. Teach your teen to ask their bully questions such as, why are you treating me this way? What can be done to resolve this? If the bullying persists, tell your teen to come to you.
  6. If bullying does continue, ask your teen if it is okay to intervene. If they agree, go to the administration and ask what they feel can be done to resolve this issue.

Bullying is not okay. Unfortunately, many administrators and teachers in the school system see this behavior as normal and acceptable. But, when adolescents are resorting to harming themselves as a way out, the issue becomes life and death. Parents, I urge you to check in with your teens and make sure they have not fallen victim to bullying behavior.

 

Abigail Clark M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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