The story of my personal loss and recovery and proof that what does not kill you, makes you stronger and more positive
Series Table of Contents
Lists of tips and advice on various topics, like how to keep kids busy during school holidays, how to be a great teacher and more
The 3-part story of my life coaching client who learned that acceptance is a critical element in finding happiness.
This blog is full of many beliefs about living life with confidence. I have written about ways to instill confidence in our children as parents or teachers. The list of affirmations that promote high self-esteem is endless. If I tried to write a list of them all, I would find myself spending years and never reaching the end of the list. There are millions of thoughts or combinations of thoughts that support high self-esteem and boost confidence. Notice these in yourself and in the world around you. Start collecting them and learning how to adopt them.
Some people are angry. Most of them learn anger from their parents and are trapped in a vicious cycle. One of the saddest things is an angry family, in which the parents are angry at the kids, who are angry at their parents, who are angry at their kids…
Some say anger peaks during the teen years. I am not sure this is true for everyone. I know many teens who are joyful and happy. I was angry until I became a teenager, so I believe anger has nothing to do with age and hormones and everything to do with awareness. I think anger is a mindset that clutters our thinking and we are angry because we have poisoned ourselves with thoughts of disappointment and frustration.
I have spent some time coaching a woman who suffered from Anorexia Nervosa. She weighed 32kg and would not eat to save her life. A study in high schools in Canada found that 50% of girls were on a diet because they thought they were overweight. If your daughter is young and you think, “I’ll deal with it when she is a teen”, think again. Anorexia is a control disorder, so watch for the signs and save your daughter while you can!
What a shame! Assertiveness is not something we learn at school, so if you cannot learn it from your parents, because they never learned it from their own parents, then you can be easily manipulated and pushed over.
Everybody hates being pushed over. I see it as a natural part of life. We all do everything we can to improve our position, and if others are in our way, we push them aside. Sometimes, well, most times, we hurt people along the way without any bad intentions. Assertiveness can help us do better in life without hurting anyone.
The emotional bond between people depends on their ability to connect and the style of the connection. The attachment we have with the people in our lives (partners, children, siblings, friends and even our own parents) are strongly associated with the attachment we formed in our early years of life, with our primary caregiver (usually our parents). Similarly, the challenges we experience in our relationships as adults are shaped by the patterns of challenge from our early attachments.
According to John Bowlby, attachment is the connection a baby forms with its parent to ensure their basic needs of safety, comfort, care and pleasure are met. He described this attachment as “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings”. Bowlby believed that the style of the relationship between the parent (mainly the mother) and the child in this critical period of the baby’s development becomes a blue print for later relationships.
During a very tough time in my life, I started a search to find out who I was and define my “self”. Much like everyone else, I grew up in a society in which the “self” was a very vague concept that kids never considered. I was 16. I went through a bit of crisis when I discovered that I did not know who “I” was. I needed to find and define “me”, to make the choice to be myself.
“Being” is a very deep concept that defines who we are. This is why when I wrote the book “Be special, Be yourself for Teenagers” I considered the idea of being, of uniqueness and of self as essential parts of identity. Even though I wrote this book for teenagers and their parents, I think it is valuable for all of us even if we don’t have pimples.
Myths, facts and figures about what has become a worldwide epidemic both offline and online. Bullying is a form of violence, so what should parents do when their child is bullied or bullies someone else?
Dr. William Glasser is an American psychiatrist who developed the Reality Theory, which later on became known as the Choice Theory. The Choice Theory states that a person’s behavior is inspired by what that person wants or needs at that particular time, not an outside stimulus. Glasser thought all living creatures control their behavior to fulfill their need for satisfaction in one or more of these five areas:
1. Need for survival
2. Need to belong and be loved by others
3. Need for power and importance
4. Need for freedom and independence
5. Need to have fun
Education is one of the most important investments in life (followed closely by investing in relationships). Children spend the majority of their most valuable childhood years in educational institutions. Many people around the world spend a fortune on a good school for their kids. This fortune is often wasted if they choose badly. They end up blaming their children for not making the most out of the opportunity they were given. Choose your schools wisely.
Our lives are full of relationships. Each of them is a test we need to pass in order to have a happy, healthy, successful and fulfilling life. Relationships are such an important element in our lives that we start the process even before we are born. We have 9 months of close, physical contact with our mom and through her, with our dad or her partner. The success of these early relationships will have a huge impact on our long term relationship with our parents – the most important test of our lives.
Most people have conflicts in their relationships and fail to resolve them because they confuse between empathy, sympathy and compassion. Understanding the difference between the three is essential to passing the relationship test. Here is my version of the difference.
Some people think that life is hard and that the harder it is, the more people complain about it. I tend to think it works the other way around – the more we complain about life, the harder it becomes.
Creativity is more important for kids today than knowledge. Kids know a lot more than we did at their age, but to be successful, they need something extra – they need to be able to figure out where everyone else is going and go some other way. In other words, they need to be creative
Reading is an important tool for gaining knowledge. When I was a kid, my teachers provided us most of the knowledge we got. Today, my kids get most of their new knowledge by themselves, much of it by reading. In fact, I believe that getting our kids to love reading is the single most significant thing we can do for them. Here is how.
Empathy is a very important emotional skill. As parents and teachers, it is our role to teach our children empathy. Although some people have a natural tendency to be more understanding and empathic toward others, our role is to promote empathy in all children. Regardless of their natural starting point, every child can improve his/her ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes. This will help them build better relationships.
A person’s level of empathy can tell us a lot about a person’s emotional intelligence. If they are more empathic, they are usually more confident. If you can be empathic, it usually means you feel good enough about yourself to be able to share it with others.
There is a paradox in the search for excellence, because it is the result of an attitude, a habit you need to have in the first place in order to achieve it. This series offers tips and advice on how to succeed and achieve excellence in life
Stories about my life coaching clients and their personal development journeys. Each story carries a message everyone can enjoy and learn from
Things you can do at home to save time, money and space, based on personal experience
Financial struggles can put a lot of strain on family life. When I talk to people about the challenges in their life, many of them say that shortage of money is the main source of their difficulties. This post series contains tips and advice on how to do better financially and why.
Many parents talk to me about their kids’ character traits and behavior. “He is a stubborn kid. He was always stubborn” or “She is a nag. She nagged from the first day she came home”. I wonder how much of what these parents are describing is real character (permanent and unchangeable) and how much of it we can change.
In a very chaotic lifestyle of high stress and too many changes, we depend a lot on our habits, because they give us certainty. Without the certainty of habits, our life would be full of fear.
Imagine getting up in the morning, not knowing if there is food in the refrigerator, or sending your kids to school, not knowing if they will come back, or leaving your home in the morning, not knowing if it will be there when you return.
Certainty is essential for our emotional survival. When we have the confidence that things will happen the way we expect them to, we can stop worrying and struggling. We are more relaxed and therefore think better and get better outcomes. To create certainty, we develop habits that allow us not to think and re-think everything we do. Habits are automatic rules of behavior that help us feel safe.
However, habits can heal us or kill us.
Anxiety is one of the biggest problems of our society today. Research has found that it is one of the main reasons for sickness, relationship problems, crime and failure. People who are anxious have a bad physical reaction to thinking about the future.
Everybody feels anxiety sometimes. It is a natural reaction to what is perceived as danger – an evolution of the “fight or flight” response. While for most people, experiencing anxiety in small doses is normal and healthy, for others, feeling anxious about the future or about situations over which they have no control may cause real interference with daily living.
The problem is with the frequency of the fear and the perception of danger, when in fact there may be no real danger. When people experience mild anxiety, we call it “worrying”. When the fear takes over and blocks the person from living a normal life, we call it “Anxiety Disorder”.
I often get asked to share feel good tips during my workshops and presentations. This made me think that maybe presenting a topic in the form of tips might be easier to read and implement. So here goes. I am starting the Feel Good Tips series. I hope you can make good use of it.
If you wear glasses, you understand focus really well. Why is it easy for people who need glasses? Because many of them just cannot see what is in front of them without their glasses. If you cannot see clearly, it is very hard to function effectively.
I have been shortsighted since I was 15 years old. Without my glasses, I cannot read well, drive, enjoy TV or notice facial expressions from half a meter away. Without glasses, I cannot do my presentations, coach, cook, clean the house or even choose what clothes to wear. My vision plays a big part in my life, and without it, I am crippled.
Mental focus works the same. If we are not focused, it is as if our vision is blurred. The lack of focus affects all aspects of our life negatively and we are crippled.
Difficult people are energy consumers, hence the title “difficult”. When you spend time with them, and sometimes just when you are in their presence, you feel exhausted. Most people, after trying to handle difficult people a few times without success, label them as “difficult” and after a while, they give up trying.
I believe that difficult people struggle to recognize and manage their own feelings. Much like a person with a learning difficulty, difficult people have an emotional or social disability. It is a cycle. Their challenges make them difficult, so others avoid their company, which makes their disability even worse. Their need for company and external sources makes them more difficult, so they get less help and support. It never ends.
98% of people think of themselves as shy.
Shyness can be debilitating. As children, some people lack the skills and lived experiences of coping in social environments, which makes them feel crippled and develop a sense of helplessness because of it.
The good news is that it can be changed.
Kids can be smart and/or pretty, but not confident. In fact, when kids think they are smart, it sometimes takes away their motivation. This is why parents must learn how to praise their kids
If you want your kids to be friendly and succeed in life, you must help them develop social skills by providing them with many opportunities to experience interaction with friends. So what are those social skills kids need?
Last week, I ran two parenting workshops. At each one, I told the parents that I had found an amazing formula for raising gifted children and that my goal for the day was to share this formula, or at least the main parts of it, with them.
Every time I run a workshop, I get puzzled looks and parents ask, “How can you share such a thing with us? Aren’t kids either gifted or not?”
Well, no! Kids are gifted. Period. We just have to help them discover their particular gifts.
Every person prefers to communicate using one or two channels or styles. Kids are no different. They can be visual, kinesthetic, auditory or digital.
Once you know your child’s communication styles, it becomes easy to stimulate them, keep them busy and help them develop.
Tips and advice from my personal experience as a teacher and tutor, as well as the accumulated experience of many teachers, other parents and my own kids
How parents’ letters of love and trust inspired kids in my leadership camp and changed their lives and what we can learn from this as parents
In my parenting workshop, “Happy Parents Raise Happy Kids”, the parents and I discuss many aspect of parenting. One of the main topics parents bring up is that it is not easy to being a parent. I have 3 kids of my own, whose ages spread over 13 years, and I know that parenthood can be challenging.
One of the best tips I can give parents is to shift to an “I’m OK – You’re OK” parenting framework. I came across this framework over 30 years ago, in a tiny little book. I was studying at the time and was fascinated by the simplicity of it. Later on, when I started teaching kids, I adopted this mindset. It allowed me help them so much that when I had my own kids, I adopted an “I’m OK-You’re OK” parenting style. It worked like magic for me and I would like to share it with you.
Some goals are very hard to reach. That is why climbing is often used as an inspirational metaphor. Imagine yourself wanting to reach the top of a very high mountain. You know that it is going to be hard and maybe even long. You can prepare yourself for some of the paths you will need to take to reach the top of the mountain, but for others, you can’t.
In life coaching, we say that we can only work on the things we can prepare for. Why? Because “we do not know what we do not know” so we cannot prepare for it. We are not fortune tellers. Often we are able to think of a few challenges we might encounter on the road to wherever we are going, but we never know exactly what we will face. We cannot carry absolutely everything we might need for any possible unforeseen event.
Every mountain requires a climb. Sometimes the hill is steep and sometimes it is moderate. Some people have smaller legs and they need more steps, while others have giant legs and require less energy. Sometimes, you are physically strong, have lots of muscles and can run up the hill. Sometimes, you are a bit weaker and must rest every 2 meters. Regardless of your circumstances, climbing requires effort. The thing that determines if we make it to the top is whether we believe we can. Because as the saying goes, “if you believe you can or believe you can’t, you are right”.
Most people do not like to talk about their rules, but they have them for everything. There are rules for living, rules for dying, rules for work, rules for home, rules for riding the bus and rules for eating in a restaurant. As soon as you understand you do not live alone in the world, you know that to get along, you need to have some rules to live by. The amazing part is that even to get along with ourselves we need rules. Of course, as mostly subconscious beings, many of our rules are quite irrational.
A special event that took place during a leadership camp and made kids face a challenging position of power over their peers
If you talk to most parents (when they are calm), they will tell you that independence is very important. Yet when I ask them how if they teach independence, they talk about chores. My mom did the same. She said, “If you do the dishes from the age of 10, when you live in your own home, you will be able to do the dishes”. We told her, “No, Mom. If I wash the dishes from the age of 10, by the time I am grown up, I will hate and resent it so much I will avoid washing the dishes”.
Even though my mom did not think that fun and motivation had anything to do with the kind of grownups we would become, she still wanted us to be independent. I think that much like many other parents, she confused doing chores with independence.
Any relationship is a form of agreement between two or more people. The deeper the relationship, the more things you will need to agree on for your relationship to stay positive. Some relationships, like marriage and having children together, are more important than others. They have a huge impact on our lives and our futures. I call them love agreements.
Tips, tools and techniques I use in my life coaching practice, which can be used by other life coaches, mentors, teachers and parents to facilitate change and learning.
Love, as you know, is the most important thing you can give your children. Although you may not have any doubts about your love for your children, they often do. If you want to understand their doubt, think of your own doubts about your parents’ love for you.
Now, when I am a parent myself, I have no doubts about my parents love for me, but when I was a child, I had many doubts. It took me a long time to learn that what they called “love” was not my definition of love and I translated their behavior into “They don’t love me”.
In my parenting workshops and coaching sessions, many parents share the same feelings with me. There are things you discover about your parents’ love for you only when you have your own kids and when you get the opportunity to learn about “love languages”.
Improve your life and grow as a person by making these lists – what makes you happy, who are your friends and lots more
How many times have you heard that? Almost every school break and holiday, kids have no idea what to do with themselves when they are out of their routine. Of course, it is their parents’ job to keep them busy. So here are 100 fun activities for the little ones to make your life easier.
Lots of great tips on how parents can motivate their kids – external vs. internal motivation, using praise and many more
Moving house has been a big part of my life. I have already moved 25 times, sometimes to another country on the other side of the world.
My first move was when I was 15. I do not remember anything since my mom and dad were in charge of moving. In the following 2 years, we moved again twice, to a rented apartment and then to a house, in which I lived for another 5 years.
From the 4th house to the 25th, in which I live today, I moved as a grownup. Some of the moves were as a student and in others I was already a parent. During one move, I was pregnant. Some house moving was to a different countries and even continent. I guess you can say I am a very experienced mover.
Many people ask me “What’s your moving secret? How did move so many times, and so successfully?” The answer is this:
I love tattoos. As a visual person, I find a lot of beauty in tattoos.
The problem with kids wanting a tattoo is that kids cannot imagine the future. They cannot imagine a time when their dazzling tattoo will become a problem. Unlike piercing in your ears, your nose or even your tongue, which you can hide by taking the jewelry out when you go to an interview or a tiny braid in your hair that you can cut off just before your wedding, tattoos are permanent and you cannot just make them disappear.
Stories of weird things my mother knows and dreams about that I just cannot explain in any other way, so I think she is psychic
There is a period in children’s development when they ask questions in response to everything you say. I remember the “Why” as my kids’ way of learning.
I think that Socrates, the great philosopher, never got over this stage of his development and perhaps this is what got him going on his quest for knowledge and understanding of life. Mentally, Socrates was just a curious kid. His mind was full of questions and through them he gained a lot of wisdom.
Questions are like arrows, they shift the focus to what you want to learn, inquire or investigate. Asking our kids questions can help in many ways.
The give and take of various relationships, from advertising to free sample to making friend and bearing a grudge. When you want something from someone else, start by giving, but what if “they started it”?
Breastfeeding is one of the greatest tools when raising babies. It is the easiest way to “take your kitchen with you” and feed your baby wherever you go. You don’t need to measure quantities or temperature, no containers, no washing afterwards and you don’t need a pharmacy to help your baby with its immune system.
I deliver many parenting workshops. One of the participants asked me if I had ever written my “parenting bible”. At first, I did not think I could write a set of rules that would suit all parents, but then I decided I would just write my personal parenting rules and parents could just use them as a starting point for writing their own
The things that make marriage tough and the tips that make it possible to keep and nurture
During coaching, I usually share some of my personal experience with my clients, so it was very natural for me to share one of my horror stories from school. Unfortunately, I have had too many. When I tell them, I re-live them in my mind and have clear memories of them. I remember the names, the places, the settings and the feelings I have had. I shared these stories because I wanted my clients to consider that in spite the horrors of our childhood, we can all make it. In spite of our parents not protecting us, we can make it. In spite of our teachers not teaching us with the right context in mind, we can be very successful. And happy.
What is self esteem, what is it good for, why kids should have high self esteem and how parents can help their kids have it
There is an area in the brain, a bit like a muscle, that is responsible for “self regulation”. Self regulation is the ability to control ourselves and not do things impulsively without thinking them through. One of the big differences between parents who succeed in their parenting and those who think their kids are “from hell” is how big their self regulating muscle is, and who they are trying to control: themselves, or their kids.
If we want to understand ourselves and others, it is not enough to know what is important to us. We have to understand our needs. Needs are a belief that we have to have something, or that there is something we cannot live without. Regardless of whether it is true or not, we function in life based on this belief.
A teacher’s beliefs about education have a direct impact on their teaching style. They form their beliefs from 5 main sources: their own experiences as students, their teachers (in the school or in higher education), their parents, the media, and the experiences of others around them.
Telling parents their child has a problem is not an easy task. Do you tell parents their child has a difficulty and risk that the label is going to be hard to remove, or follow the parents’ desire to believe their child will “grow out of it” and find out in Grade 6 that the kid is unable to read a single word?
We are all born into the approval trap without a choice. We seek our parents’ approval to learn about life and build our confidence and then we get trapped! But how do we get out and regain control over our life?
Change is not easy for many people. Over time, we develop beliefs, thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that give us a feeling of certainty in the world and make up our identity, and identity is a big thing for people. It is the skeleton that defines who we are. This makes it very hard for us to let go when it seems like we have to give up a bone from our skeleton and we are afraid we will not be able to stand properly.
People are a lot like monkeys. If you want to catch a monkey, you can put a cage with a banana in front of it. Once the monkey holds the banana, the monkey is trapped, because their hand will not come out with the banana. Monkeys are not smart enough to know that if they let go of the banana, they will be able to slide their hand out of the cage, so they stay trapped.
People hold on to beliefs, thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that trap them like bananas and are afraid to let go of them even when they rot and smell.
The ability to listen is thought to be one of the major components of a good relationship. Whether you want to be a good parent, good partner, a good boss, a good friend or a good colleague, listening skills are your best relationship investment.
It is not as easy to listen as we might think. The common misconception is that listening is just passively lending your ear to someone. It is not. In order to be effective, listening has to be a lot more active than that.
Happiness and misery are titles of all the experiences in life. The Star Wars movie series is a good example of the two contradicting experiences. You can join either the Jedi or the dark side.
Expectations are important, but more important is whether we expect them from ourselves or from others, and what we do when our expectations are not met.
With mindfulness and courage we can take responsibility for our own pain and see that our expectations cause it, not anything outside of us.
As a life coach promoting happiness, I find myself talking a lot about perfectionism as an obstacle on the way to a happy life. After researching the science of happiness and seeing thousands of clients, including many parents and children, I can tell you that happiness and perfectionism cannot live in the same body. They are like the good and the bad wolves living in your body and when you feed one, the other one starves.
The problem with perfectionism is not only that perfectionists are not happy but also that those who are close to them are not happy either because of it.
Giving and receiving compliments are very important communication skills that boost our self-confidence and the confidence of the people around us. We grow up in a society that struggles with giving and receiving compliments. People are stingy at the giving end and uncomfortable at the receiving end.
What many people don’t realize is that complimenting others is a projection of a trait, skill or beauty that we see in ourselves. It is a gift of kindness that when we give, we also receive.
I have written a lot about happiness over the years. I think happiness (in all its variations) is what everyone wants in life. Happiness is not only the goal of parenting, it is also a most basic human goal. We are here to be happy, to find happiness and to enjoy it.
The most common obstacle to happiness is stress. In reality, stress is fear. It is fear that manifests in tensions that drive us into primal behavior (fight or flight). In the old days, it was what made us freeze in the face of a lion. While in the past, it was very obvious that lions, snakes and other scary animals were the enemy, today, the enemy is inside of us. We get anxious and stressed just thinking about a possible scary future.
Important things kids sometimes do not know about their parents and I want to make sure my kids always know – that I love them, that I will always come to rescue them, and more.
According to scientists, stress is the number 1 cause of mental and physical problems in humans in the 21st century. I think we are so stressed because life today is much more complicated than previously: there are too many options, too much stimulation and everything goes so fast. Way to fast. This series gives you 60 great ideas to relax and eliminate stress from your life forever.
Answers to important questions every parent wants to know, given by parenting experts from the blogosphere
Reverse psychology is a powerful thing in our upside-down world. Giving to get, praising to raise achievers and slowing down to speed up are all practical ways of getting more out of life
In June 2009, Gal wrote about troubled teens for the first time. Since then, many people have responded to that post with stories, requests for help and opinions.
So I decided to satisfy parents’ hunger for advice on how to deal with teens (some may just want to survive those horrible teenage years with their kids) and help them live a successful and happy life.
Many parents complain that their kids spend way too much time in front of the television. So why do they do it? And what can you do about it?
This year, my 15-year-old son Tsoof had to do a school assignments in drama class. If you think Drama studies are all about playing, make belief or acting, they are not. He had to research a topic and present it in a special style and he worked really hard on this project. Gal and I felt happy and privileged to watch the whole process of this assignment and the way he grew from doing it.
Our kids do not play computer or video games that often (they are too busy ice skating, singing, playing music, dancing, playing sport and reading to have much time left for video games), so we did not expect this to make any difference to Tsoof, but it did big time.
We were shocked by how easy it was to find information on video games and violence. It is all there – all the proof for the negative and devastating effects of violent video games on our society. Yet, the spread of violent video games is increasing and things are getting worse.
Even though our company slogan is that happiness is a choice, a lot of people tell me they have things in their lives that make them unhappy and they did not choose them. This is true! I have things like that too. While we might not always be able to choose to have things that make us happy, we all have the choice to decide what to do with the things we have.