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IconFor some brides a sudden burst of tearful protest from an infant is just a reminder of the familial love surrounding them on their special day. For others and their guests, even soft cooing from a baby is distracting and annoying. Your wedding guests want to hear the vows you and your new partner in life will recite on your wedding day, so what to do? More >>

Tags: DatingFamily/Relationships - ChildrenMorals, Ethics, ValuesParentingRegarding Dr. LauraRelationshipswedding

Luck Won't Make YourMarriage a Success:
Four Benefits of Pre-Marital Counseling

By Sharon M. Rivkin, M.A., M.F.T.

We seem to prepare foreverything in our life - jobs, exams, etc. Why then don't weprepare for a successful marriage? Maybe it's because of thefairy tales that have brainwashed us into thinking that we'll all livehappily ever after? In reality, it doesn't work that way, as you mayhave noticed by now. 50 percent of marriages end in divorce#133;andonly half of those that endure are truly happy in the long run.

According to Patricia and Gregory Kuhlman of Marriage Success Training,"research shows that there is a window of opportunity during the yearbefore the wedding and the six months or so after when couples get theoptimum benefit from marriage preparation. Later, under stress,negative habits and relationship patterns may become established and bemuch harder to resolve. If you just wing it and count on yourluck and romantic attachment to make your marriage a success, your oddsare only one in four."

How do you beat the odds and give your marriage a better chance ofsurvival? Through pre-marital counseling and education. According to research, pre-marital counseling can reduce the risk ofdivorce by up to 30% and lead to a happier and healthiermarriage. And the healthiest marriages are those where the couplecan negotiate their differences. Why wait until you're marriedand have your first marital fight to see if you can negotiate? Why not prepare ahead of time with tools and skills?

Most couples naively think they don't need preparation. Maybe theyhaven't experienced relationship hardships and don't believe there willever be problems. And if problems do pop up, they believe theywill magically turn out okay. Remember the fantasy? Marriagesdon't work that way. They take a lot of hard work, thought, andskill. Love alone will not guarantee a successful marriage. Instead, discuss and resolve important issues before the big date tohave a better chance for a healthy marriage, such as:
  1. What are your expectationsfor a good marriage?
  2. How compatible are you onday-to-day issues?
  3. What personality-type areeach of you and what are your families of origin like?
  4. What are your communicationskills? Are you an introvert or extrovert?
  5. Do you have tools forconflict management? Can you negotiate? What do you do whenconflict arises?
  6. Do you have similar sexdrives? What type of sex do you prefer?
  7. Do you share long-term goalsand similar values?
Then, get pre-marital counselingto learn the following tools:
  1. Fair fighting. How to taketime outs, call a truce, stop the shaming and blaming, and developingground rules for fighting.
  2. Keep your partner frombecoming your enemy. When arguments build up, you cease giving yourpartner the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, resolve conflictsimmediately so you can continue to love your partner and see them in apositive light.
  3. Stay current. Addressarguments as soon as they come up. Don't sweep issues under therug. They won't go away. Resentment and anger build momentumwhenever an issue isn't dealt with and resolved.
Don't count on luck to beat thedivorce odds#133;and drop the fantasy. By discussing important issues andlearning skills through pre-marital counseling, you'll be forming asolid foundation for a successful marriage.

"What's the big deal? All I said was. . ." Sound familiar? Argument/Affairs Expert and TherapistSharon Rivkin helps couples fix their relationships by understandingwhy they fight. Sharon says, "If you don't get rid of the ghosts thathaunt your arguments, you'll never stop fighting!" Read her new book,Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy, tolearn the tools of therapy to break the cycle of destructive fighting.Sharon makes regular radio appearances nationwide and has been featuredin O: The Oprah Magazine, Reader'sDigest, Yahoo.com, Martha Stewart Living Radio, and Dr.Laura.com. For more information,visit http://www.sharonrivkin.com.Permissiongranted foruse onDrLaura.com

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Tags: MarriageParenting

Facebook Safety: Wakingup with a Social Media Hangover
By John Sileo

Facebook safety has a directcorrelation to your business's bottom line. Facebook, and social mediasites in general, are in an awkward stage between infancy and adulthood- mature in some ways, helpless in others. On the darker side of siteslike Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, scammers and identity thieves aredrooling at the sight of this unchecked data playground. In contrast,most social networkers are myopically intoxicated with all thefriendships they are creating and renewing.

There is no denying that Facebook and other social media sites have avery luring appeal. You can sit in the comfort of your own homeand suddenly have a thriving social life. You can look up oldfriends, make new ones, build business relationships and create aprofile for yourself that highlights only your talents and adventureswhile conveniently leaving out all your flaws and troubles. It iseasy to see why Facebook has acquired over 200 million users worldwidein just over five years. Which is why Facebook safety is still soimmature: Facebook's interface and functionality has grown faster thansecurity can keep up.

Unfortunately, most people dive head first into this world of socialconnectedness without thinking through the ramifications of all thepersonal information that is now traveling at warp speed throughcyberspace. It's like being served a delicious new drink at aparty, one that you can't possibly resist because it is so fun andtempting and EVERYONE is having one. The downside? Nobody isthinking about the information hangover that comes fromover-indulgence: what you put on theInternet STAYS on the internet, forever. And sometimes it showsup on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, in the hands of aprospective employer or your boss's inbox. All of the personalinformation that is being posted on profiles -- names, birthdates,kids' names, photographs, pet's names (and other password reminders),addresses, opinions on your company, your friends and your enemies, allof it serves as a one-stop shop for identity thieves. It's allright there in one neat little package and all a scammer has to do toaccess it is become your 'friend .

Recently my friend, who was an avid Facebook user, gave it up. Hehad acquired 2,000 friends and he just couldn't manage itanymore. Of course, I'm thinking, "Two thousand friends?" How do you come to personally know two thousand people over the courseof 40 years on earth? The answer is easy: he didn't knowthem all. People accept "friend" invitations all the time frompeople they don't actually know. Who doesn't like people seekingout their friendship? But consider this: there is an increasinglikelihood that the "friends" you don't know might also be con artistswho are simply trying to access your information. Every time you allowa stranger into your profile, picture yourself with a morning-afterhangover. Follow the Five Facebook Safety Tips and save yourselfthe trouble.

5 Facebook Safety Tips

1.If they're not your friend, don'tpretend. Don't accept friend requests unless you absolutely knowwho they are and that you would associate with them in person, justlike real friends.

2. Post only what you want made public.Be cautious about the personal information that you post on any socialmedia site, as there is every chance in the world that it willpropagate. It may be fun to think that an old flame can contactyou, but now scammers and thieves are clambering to access thatpersonal information as well.

3. Manage your privacy settings. Sixty percent of social networkers are unaware of their default privacysettings (how Facebook sets them for you). The simple task of settingthem to your standards can reduce your risk of identity theftdramatically. Take a few minutes and lock down your profiles byvisiting the privacy tab of your account settings. Understand what partof your profile is visible to friends and non-friends alike.

4. Keep Google Out. Unless you want allof your personal information indexed by Google and other searchengines, restrict your profile so that it is not visible to thesedata-mining experts.

5. Don't respond to Friends in Distress.If you receive a post requesting money to help a friend out, do thesmart thing and call them in person. Friend in Distress schemes arewhen a thief takes over someone else's account and then makes a pleafor financial help to all of yourfriends (who think that the post is coming from you).

Following these 5 Facebook Safety tips is a great way to prevent aninformation-sharing hangover.

About the author: John Sileobecame America's leading Identity Theft Speaker amp;Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 toidentity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department ofDefense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To further bulletproof yourself and yourbusiness, visit John's blog at Sileo.com. To book John atyour next event, visit www.ThinkLikeaSpy.com. Permissiongranted foruse onDrLaura.com

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Tags: Morals, Ethics, ValuesParentingValues

The Key to SuccessfulRelationships:
Put Yourself First
By Winn Claybaugh
Author of Be Nice (Or Else!)

Before you can have successful relationships with others, you mustmaster your relationship with yourself. Here's a radical challenge:Make it a goal to fall back in love with yourself. When I say that to aroomful of people in my seminars, I usually hear lots of nervousgiggles. Even the thought of 'falling in love with me seems extreme,and many people reject the idea. But before you can offer others thegifts of happiness, joy, purpose, and fulfillment, you have to own themyourself.

I once had the honor of knowing a wonderful woman named Noel DeCaprio.A successful spa owner, Noel was heralded as a mentor and leader withinher industry. She'd been featured and interviewed in magazines and ontelevision for her wisdom, and many people looked to her for coaching,business ideas, and her 'you can do it approach.

Noel experienced a 14-year battle with breast cancer, which eventuallytook her life in December 1998. Six months before her passing, Iinterviewed Noel for an audiotape to raise money for breast cancerresearch. In that interview, she said that after her double mastectomyand months of chemotherapy, she looked in the mirror and hated herself.Noel was wise enough to know she had to find a way to fall back in lovewith herself, and she did it by making bathing a ritual. Every day,she'd spend hours in the ritual of bathing. She focused on the bathsalts, candles, oils, creams, and aromas. She spent time visitinglittle boutiques that sold such items, having them gift wrapped eventhough she was buying them for herself. She put so much time intosomething she'd never had time for before#151;something that seemed soselfish and narcissistic#151;that eventually she realized she was back inlove with herself. And when that happened, Noel told her family,friends, and staff, 'Tell everyone I have cancer! I'm out of thecloset, and I want everyone to know so I can help as many people as Ican.

How Noel went on to raise money and awareness for cancer wasunbelievable. But let me ask you: Could she have accomplished so much,and benefited so many people, had she not fallen back in love withherself?

Once you solidify your relationship with yourself, you're ready to moveon to your relationships with others. People often think relationshipsmean that 'one and only person in their life, but every person youcontact is a relationship that requires your commitment. If you drivein traffic, you have a relationship with everyone on the freeway. Ifyou drive down the freeway screaming, 'Get out of my way! it's goingto be very difficult for you to walk into work and say, 'Hi, happy toserve you. If you verbally abuse waiters, waitresses, or bank tellers,it's going to be very difficult for you to have a successful, intimaterelationship with a spouse or partner.

Remember that every relationship offers you the opportunity to grow andlearn. If you assume that everyone is doing their best#151;just as youare#151;and choose to give people a break, you'll find yourself developingthe warm, wonderful, nice relationships you desire.

Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!) and 'one of thebest motivational speakers in the country, according to CNN's LarryKing. A business owner for over 25 years with over 8,000 people in hisorganization, Winn is the co-owner of hair care giant Paul Mitchell'sschool division. Winn has helped thousands of businesses build theirbrands and create successful working cultures. His clients includeSouthwest Airlines, the Irvine Company, Vidal Sassoon, EntertainmentTonight, Mattel, For Rentmagazine, Structure/Limited/Express, and others. Winn is a frequentguest on national radio and a regular contributor to onlinepublications. Visit www.BeNiceOrElse.com to sign up for his free monthly Be Nice (Or Else!) newsletter.. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com

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Tags: Family/Relationships - ChildrenParenting
Eating Colorfully
By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers

It's essential to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables every day and it can be a lot of fun too! Colorful fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals your body needs to maintain good health and energy levels. Each color range provides your body with different nutrients, so it is important to eat a rainbow of color! Here are five major colors and example foods:

Blue/Purple: Blueberries, Purple grapes, Plums, Purple cabbage, Eggplant and Purple peppers

Green: Avocados, Green apples, Honeydew, Kiwifruit, Artichokes, Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cucumbers, Leeks and Peas

White: Bananas, Brown pears, White peaches, Cauliflower, Garlic, Ginger, Jicama, Mushrooms, Parsnips, Potatoes and White Corn

Yellow/Orange: Apricots, Cantaloupe, Oranges, Papayas, Pineapples, , Butternut squash, Carrots, Yellow summer squash and Sweet potatoes.

Red: Red apples, Cherries, Cranberries, Pomegranates, Strawberries, Red peppers, Radishes, Radicchio, and Tomatoes.

Make it fun while shopping by having the kids pick out different colored fruits and vegetables. At mealtimes, identify the colors and name the foods. Colorful eating is an easy concept to teach small children and it will go a long way to developing their healthy eating habits.

About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby, creators or products such as homemade baby food kits, baby food cookbooks, baby food and breast milk storage trays, breastfeeding reminders, and child development diaries (www.FreshBaby.com). Visit them online at www.FreshBaby.com and subscribe to their Fresh Ideas newsletter to get monthly ideas, tips and activities for developing your family's healthy eating habits! Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

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Tags: Family/Relationships - ChildrenParenting

Teaching Tips on Reading Skills for Kids
By Jodie Lynn,

Getting kids to learn how to enjoy reading can be quite stressful and frustrating for a parent. Here are some tips to utilize that seem to work well for those reluctant readers.
  1. Get your child a library card. As soon as he is old enough, let him get his own card. It is very exciting for kids to have their own card and make their own choices in reading material.

  2. Don't frown on his choice of books or reading material. Let your child make the choice on what to read. It might not be the book you would have picked out. In fact, it might even be a comic book, the back of a cereal box or a bubble gum wrapper. As long as your child picks up something and begins to read, it doesn't really matter.

  3. Let your kids see you reading. Laugh aloud and show them what it is that you are laughing about. Open the book to that specific page or picture and point to the words and read them to your child. Say, "Books can really be funny!"

  4. Set aside time for reading together. In the beginning, it might only be three times a week, then every other day and eventually move forward to each day. It almost always works best if you will take turns reading.

  5. Ask questions about what he just read. Don't do this with every page. Children know exactly what you are trying to do. Indeed, it works much better if you make a statement like, "Wait -- I don't understand why Jordan did not like the large red truck -- do you?"

  6. Encourage reading material on things he likes best. If your child loves Fairy Tales, shoot for that topic to begin. Alternatively, let them choose a wide variety of mixed topics, some of which you might was to roll your eyes -- but just stay calm and smile.

  7. Be Flexible: If you have a reading time scheduled and he just does not want to do it, go with the flow. It's important to show your child that reading is fun and is not a chore, test or quiz. You can always catch up later.

  8. Tape the session. Nothing is funnier as taping a reading session. Parents can get much farther with kids if they will let down their guard every once in a while and act silly. Play back the tape and your child will hear themselves reading and then hear your part where you acted silly. Maybe by changing your voice.

  9. Share personal stories. When reading with your child, point out a similar instance in real life. For example, if a character in the book falls down and drops a glass of milk, you could say, "That happened to me when I was seven." Or, "That's just like the time when you fell down after tripping over the dog...remember."

  10. Read everything aloud. If you will read signs, instructions, even the weather forecast off the TV and etc., aloud, your child will hear words and make a connection. He will see and hear how words are powerful, fun and descriptive while building his vocabulary and enjoyment for reading.
Remember, don't punish your child if they are not catching on to the joy of reading as quickly as you would like for them to -- it'll all work out as long as you stay calm.

copy; 2005 Jodie Lynn

Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Parent to Parent (www.ParentToParent.com) is now going into its tenth year and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. Lynn has a regular family segment on radio programs, one of which is syndicated to over 20 stations. She has written two books and contributed to two others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest best-selling parenting/family book is Mommy CEO, revised edition. Preorder Lynn's new book, "Mom CEO: Avoiding the Distressed Housewife Syndrome and Winning at Motherhood," online or from any bookstore. See www.ParentToParent.com for more details. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

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Tags: Family/Relationships - FamilyMarriageParentingRelationshipsRelatives

Countdown to Fire Season:
Five Things to Do Now to Prepare

By Larry Koman

The recent fires in Santa Barbara are a stark reminder that the California Fire season is here early. If you escaped damage from the fires, consider yourself lucky. Losing a home to a fire is a life-changing event that no one should experience. Even if you don't live in a rural area, you are not immune to damage from fire. Many people in San Diego would have never expected that they would be affected by brush fires, but many lost their homes anyway.

You should take this time to make sure you are prepared in the event of a fire. Here are five things you can do to be ready.

Have an Evacuation Plan Any plan is better than no plan. Think about what you would do if you were suddenly told to evacuate. Where would you go, what would you do? What about the kids, pets, and the elderly? Have a family meeting. Talk about what to do if you were forced to evacuate. Make sure everyone knows their role, where to go, where to meet, and where to call. Talk about what stays and what goes. Remember that you might not have much time. Write it down, make a checklist. This will take the stress out of the evacuation order and make things easier.

Review your Insurance Coverage This is a good thing to do from time to time. Call or visit your insurance agent and review all of your insurance, especially your fire insurance. If you don't know who your fire insurance company is, find out and write it down and keep it with your important papers. Most Insurance Companies will be happy to review your coverage with you, and many have tools especially designed for this purpose. Make sure you know what is covered. This will give you piece of mind in the event of a fire.

Inventory your belongings Take some time to make a list of what you own. This doesn't take long but will help you remember if it is all gone after a fire. Go from room to room and write down what you see. Make notes about the items like where you got it, how much it cost, etc. Don't forget the obvious, like the furniture, but don't overlook the little things either, like window coverings, pictures, paintings, and special finishes. When you're finished, put the list in an envelope and put it somewhere you can get to it after a fire. Keep it somewhere else; a safety deposit box, an office, or a relative's house. If possible take pictures of every room and keep the pictures or disk with your inventory.

Gather Important Things Together I look around my house and I notice I have important things in a lot of different places. I looked for a copy of a picture a while ago and found that I have a drawer in the kitchen, a drawer in my office, and a drawer in the den, all with pictures. If I had a fire today, I might lose all of them. I also have some important papers in my office and some in the den. You should gather important pictures and files together so they can be gathered up quickly. Placing them in a fire proof safe or cabinet away from the garage or kitchen will help insure that they survive. The hardest thing to replace after a fire is the pictures and important papers. Take this step now and have peace of mind in the event something tragic occurs.

Fireproof your Home Although there is really no such thing as fireproof, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of fire damage to your house. If you have an older home with a shake roof, think about replacing it now with a composition shingle or cement tile roof. Spending a little money now will give you added peace of mind later. Clear debris from around your house, even if you don't live in a rural area. Clearing combustibles from around your house will reduce the threat of fire damage and make it possible for Fire Fighters to maneuver around your house to help defend it.

Whether you live in an area exposed to brush fires or not, taking these steps now will help make your family safer and give you peace of mind. If your home is suddenly destroyed, you're prepared.

Larry Koman is a Certified Property and Casualty Underwriter and a Licensed California General Contractor with more than 20 years experience inspecting and rebuilding homes damaged by fire, earthquake, and other disasters. For more information visit www.disasters911.com. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

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Tags: Adult Child-ParentFamily/Relationships - Adult Child/ParentMarriageParentingRelationships

Fears Of A Clown
by Bob Schwartz

There are certain words spoken by a child that can send a shiver of panic through every parental nerve ending. I've discovered that the words causing the greatest consternation were not "Don't worry, the tattoos can always be removed with a laser" or "Can you believe putting in six eyebrow rings barely hurt?"

Rather, the words which sent me quickly into a panic attack were, "My Gymbo's gone!"

Most children, sometime in their early bedtime careers, take a liking to sleeping with a stuffed animal, cuddly clown, small blanket or even something out of the ordinary like one of my children's predilection for nightly embracing a deck of Rugrats Uno cards. Don't ask.

Our son fell into the clown category, and while putting him to bed one night during a family vacation in Canada, we discovered the terrifying experience of finding that his Gymbo the clown was gone. Vanished. Without even a trace of stuffing left behind or a crayon scribbled note.

After ransacking the room and coming up Gymboless, it was clear that he was most likely the victim of an involuntary dollnapping. We concluded he must have been inadvertently scooped up with the sheets that day by the hotel staff. Poor little Gymbo was lying innocently on the bed one minute and then, suddenly, his world was torn asunder with the disengagement of a fitted sheet.

Apparently, he was abruptly wrapped up in the bed linen and tossed down that dark and seemingly never-ending chute to the basement laundry facility. He went from his sheltered suburban upbringing, to being quickly exposed to the giant underbelly of a hotel building. He was naively left to wonder what he'd done to be cast aside and jettisoned into the dungeon of the sheet and pillow case world he was then forced to call home.

The immediate focus was damage control by one parent and Gymbo retrieval by the other. As our son broke out into hysterics, he made it painfully clear that no Gymbo for him meant no sleep. For everyone. And after a long day of nonstop vacationing movement, no sleep was simply an untenable concept for me.

My wife quickly got connected to the hotel laundry room and explained the dire circumstances. She was advised that they'd not seen him yet, but amazingly, they requested she provide them a description of the victim.

This caused us to immediately wonder just how many stuffed dolls they had lying in that basement. Was there some international black market for stuffed cuddly things going on down there? I grabbed the phone and interjected that we'd be able to pick him out of a lineup, so please just let us know how many cotton clowns they'd seen recently. Or perhaps they'd like us to come down and do a composite watercolor painting for them.

I handed the phone back to my wife who patiently provided the laundry staff the unmistakable physical characteristics of a stuffed blue and yellow clown #151; a missing button on his body-hugging suspenders, frizzy red hair, a frayed right leg, about twelve inches long, a bow tie, and with an unwavering cat that ate the canary smile on his face. I felt very confident they wouldn't confuse him with a mattress pad.

As we anxiously paced back and forth, the phone finally rang. In a thick French Canadian accent, the unemotional voice said, "Vee have located your clown."

The words, spoken so solemnly yet somewhat muffled, forced me to become fearful they would next demand a ransom? Or, worse yet, advise us that after a violent fifty-minute foray in the tumble dryer his arm was hanging by a thread?

My wife and I were so thankful that Gymbo was soon delivered to our door in one piece and wearing that same cockeyed grin, but to me, he had a little shell-shocked look. I could only think of the horrors he must have seen down below, tossed in amongst the giant spinning washer along with stained tablecloths and thrown about in the whirling dryers with a bath towel pressed against his face.

We could only hope that the familiar rhythmic breathing of his sleeping owner in the footed pajamas would soon erase the memories of his emotionally charged excursion into the outside world.

We did learn to avoid any unchaperoned Gymbo excursions in the future by tying one end of a shoelace around his waist and the other end around the bedpost each morning. I know that doesn't necessarily look all that loving, but hey, he never stops smiling. And it does eliminate one potential for bedtime parental panic.

Once was enough #151; for all of us.

Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com

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Tags: Adult Child-ParentCharacter, Courage, ConscienceCharacter-Courage-ConscienceFamily/Relationships - Adult Child/ParentFamily/Relationships - ChildrenFamily/Relationships - FamilyMilitaryMorals, Ethics, ValuesParentingPoliticsRelativesReligionValues

Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy at Home
by Lesley Spencer, MSc; Founder President HBWM.com Inc.

Many Americans these days are finding themselves out of shape and overweight. Why is that? The bottom line is we are taking in more calories than we are burning. It takes a conscious effort to reduce calories, eat healthier and get regular exercise.

Exercise does not have to be a dreaded word either. The good news is that exercise gives you more energy, stress relief, better health, clearer focus, sharper mind, better sleep, better bone health, better sex life, and it decreases the risk of cancers, heart attacks and heart problems. Forget the benefits of just looking good and realize exercise not only makes you feel good, it can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Here are some tips to get you on your way to a healthier lifestyle:
  • Put your workout clothes on first thing in the morning. You'll feel more "obligated" to exercise once you are dressed in your workout clothes.

  • Use music to energize and motivate you to exercise. Get a few great CDs that energize you. Turn it up and jam out! The music will motivate you and help the time pass by more quickly!

  • Always keep a water bottle and a healthy snack with you. When you get hungry, go for the healthy snack instead of heading to the pantry. Try to keep your water bottle full so that you can drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Follow the two-bite rule. If there's something you absolutely must have, take two bites and be done! You'll get your fix and be proud of your will power to put it down!

  • No time for exercise? Make a goal to walk for 30 minutes at least three times a week. You'll find if you make it a priority, you can fit it in. Try going right after breakfast or after taking your kids to school.

  • Need to be motivated to exercise? Find one or two workout partners to motivate one another. If you don't have anyone near by, find a virtual workout buddy on the http://www.HBWM.com Self-Care message boards. Share successes, motivate one another and just enjoy doing something for yourself!

  • Keep a diary of what you eat for a few days. Calculate your intake and decide where you should cut back. (You can find nutritional charts on the Mom's Assistant section of http://www.HBWM.com.)

  • If you have cravings for something sweet, try eating something tart to curb the craving such as a pickle. If you crave crunchy salty snacks, try having an apple instead.
Take the leap. Commit to exercising a few days a week and before you know it, the benefits will be their own motivator! You will feel better, look better and be better.

Lesley Spencer is founder and president of the HBWM.com, Inc. Network whichincludes: http://www.HomeBasedWorkingMoms.com, http://www.WorkAtHomeKit.com, http://www.edirectoryofhomebasedcareers.com,http://www.momsworkathomesite.com, http://www.HBWMconferences.com, http://www.HBWMcanada.com and http://www.HireMyMom.com (coming soon!). She has a Master's Degree in Public Relations and has been featured in numerous media outlets including CBS News, Forbes, Business Week, Parents, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. She has been working from home for over 10 years and has two children whom she absolutely adores! Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com

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Tags: Character, Courage, ConscienceCharacter-Courage-ConscienceFamily/Relationships - FamilyMilitaryParentingRelativesValues

Discipline, not Punishment
By Anne Leedom

It's kind of tragic that just as we master the baby and toddler years we are thrown a whole new set of curves. Our kids grow and develop new and not always desirable behaviors and we now have to learn how to cope once again.

So I set out to construct the perfect plan and I am proud to say it has stood the test, at least for now. Behavior battles seem to be at a minimum in our home. Based on information from a variety of experts, I have put into motion a strategy that should provide long term relief and a much happier and harmonious day.

The Set Up
Let's face it. We just push our kids too far. We stray from the routine to the point where even the most accommodating child will break. It could be preventing them from getting their rest, letting them get too hungry, asking them to be overly patient while we do our errands, chores or work, or providing so much fun and stimulation that they simply go on overload. This is a critical element to watch, or you will have the perfect situation for the ultimate tantrum.

Watch the Barometer
Without warning kids can suddenly hit their limits and patience begins to wane rapidly. Too often parents try to dictate in this moment how they want their child to behave. Unfortunately, the barometer is rising and our wishes will almost certainly fall on deaf and increasingly angry ears. As soon as you notice the struggle, begin to take the child aside to a quiet location and try to reason with them. For example, 'I don't want to take a bath can become a conversation about whether to take a bath or shower. In these crucial early moments, giving kids a small choice can go a long way toward preventing a potential meltdown.

Change the Course
Even the most prepared parent will encounter those horrid moments when kids are just going to wail. The key in this moment is to move past the moment as quickly and quietly as possible. Deciding to give them a bath in the morning instead of right at that moment or letting your child read in bed with the door closed for five more minutes will almost certainly restore harmony. Sure, you may not be able to expedite the plan you had in mind, but the goal is to work together. It's not about giving your child control; it's about giving your child some control. Disciplining your child is a team effort. You need to involve your child in the solution so they are more willing to cooperate. Parents who raise kids in this manner have kids who will cooperate more often than not. The battles are over before they begin and you will not be caught wondering what to do when those difficult moments arise.

Keep in Mind
No one reacts well to the word 'no . There are dozens of ways we can say no without over-using this word. Simply saying, 'Gee, that's a thought. I will think about that, has a completely different sound to a child. Kids know when we mean no. But once again, they like to feel they are being considered in the process. A little tact is another key ingredient to raising kids with at least a few less tantrums.

Ultimately, these strategies give parents something we all long for. We want to feel like we can actually overcome the battles and feel like we have won, but not at the expense of our kids' love and respect. Discipline that empowers the parent and the child is a winning formula for the long haul.

Anne Leedom is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of www.parentingbookmark.com. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

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