Are You Making These Three Relationship Goal Mistakes?

As the New Year gets into its swing, many people are setting goals and trying to accomplish them. Many clients have sought out couples therapy in Littleton to improve their relationship, interpersonal functioning, or something else. Even if you don’t need the help of a professional, consider these top mistakes that couples make when setting their relationship goals, as well as the tools to help make those better goals!

Mistake #1: Your goal includes someone else other than yourself.

If you have set a relationship goal such as “my parent will be….” or “my partner will change…” you’re in for a failure! One of the most important things that psychologists in Highlands Ranch know is that you can only change one person’s behavior: your own! If you want to see a change in your significant other’s behavior, you can set goals to help them, but you cannot force that change. Want to help your partner work toward a goal? Set your own goals and stick to them. Often, when one partner is more invested in change than the other, using strategies such as active listening can help.

Mistake #2: Your goal needs a magic wand.

If your goals are structured along the lines of “have a good relationship,” “stop fighting,” or “get closer to one another,” you may end up frustrated. Why? Because your goal only includes the endpoint, not the work you need to get there. You didn’t go into your relationship seeking to disconnect, argue all the time, or feel distant—the problem is, it happened. Instead of seeking a magic wand to fix everything, set goals that address the work that needs to be done. Change your goals to “attend couples therapy in Littleton every week,” “find a babysitter and commit to date night every Friday,” or “practice taking space when feeling angry” and you’ll see better results!

Mistake #3: Your goal is impossible.

This is a tough one, and it varies from couple to couple. Is your goal truly realistic? Some examples of unrealistic goals include “we will never fight again,” or “I will always keep my cool.” Remember, you and your partner are human! Instead, set reasonable goals, such as “when fights occur, we will take 10 minutes to calm down and reconnect” or “when I lose my cool, I will apologize before we go to bed.” A perfect goal is often “failed” very quickly, but a realistic one can help you keep growing and improving together. The SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) can help you to make a realistic goal!

For more help setting goals, making change, and connecting to those you love most, set up an appointment with a skilled couples therapist in Littleton. Dr. Lazarus has helped plenty of couples to see eye to eye, solve conflict productively, and grow closer in their marriages.

A Tale of Two Households: The Importance of Consistency

Child psychologists help families navigate all sorts of challenges, especially those dealing with helping children to grow and develop as well as possible. When parents divorce, this can be twice as much work, because there are twice as many households! Most children do have a challenge with this process, but clear communication, consistent expectations, and predictability can spell success—no matter if parents like each other or not. Read on to find why having consistency between homes is important for your child’s well-being.

Structure and Time

Here’s a common situation that divorced parents face all the time: You go to pick your children up from your ex’s house at 10 a.m. on Sunday, only to find that they are all still asleep. After a chilly wait in the driveway, the kids come out, bleary-eyed, to share their exciting stories of staying up all night the night before. By the way, they haven’t eaten, all their clothes are dirty, and nobody has homework done. When you ask your ex, you hear “when they’re with me, we do laundry and homework on Sunday nights and it works.” What to do? There is no “right” structure, just what is “right” for your family. However, when kids report widely changing bedtimes, meal times, and not enough time to complete homework, the adults need to build in more structure. Sleep hygiene is just as important  as getting math practice in, so work together to find something that works for everyone.

Rules and Expectations

If you’ve divorced, you’ve probably heard the scream of “but Mom says I can!” or “we do it this way at Dad’s house!” at least once. Your kids are right to be upset—they thought they were playing by the rules, and all of a sudden, they changed! Imagine driving down a highway that had a speed limit of 55 mph for years and suddenly, without notice or changing the signs, you get pulled over for speeding, because in a certain section of the road, the speed limit is only 40 mph. You’d be outraged! This is how kids feel when rules and expectations change suddenly, and instead of taking responsibility and correcting their behavior, they are more likely to become angry or defiant. Help by setting common rules between households, especially for important rules around safety, hygiene, and success at school .

Calm and Anxiety

Human beings love to know what is coming next. This is even more true for kids, as they have very little control over their lives—for young children, often the most they can do is choose how they respond. So a predictable household and house swap will set him or her up for success by reducing anxiety and promoting calm. Even very young children may benefit from picture-coded or color-coded calendars to see when they will be with mommy, when they will be with daddy, and how much time is in the middle. Likewise, knowing that school, meals, playtime, church, soccer, and other activities will happen no matter where the child is at can help him to feel more secure.

Navigating shared custody after a divorce is always a challenge, but by working together and keeping the child in mind, you can do it successfully! If you need more help or support, consider working with a Littleton child behavior psychologist on strategies .

Handling Relationship Stress During The Holiday Season

If there is a time to make or break a tense relationship, it’s the holiday season! This means different things for everyone, but whether you are planning on a busy work season, busy family time, vacation, or just the regular grind, this can be a challenging time of year. For couples who are struggling in their relationships, this can be even more devastating. Fortunately, your trusted couples psychologist in Highlands Ranch knows how to help! Read on to find out great ways to manage relationship stress during the holiday season.

Do have fun!

The holidays should be fun, so set yourself free to enjoy! This is a perfect time of year to enjoy vacation time from work, play in the snow, or start a family tradition that will last for years to come.

Don’t overbook.

In between fun, you need rest! If you feel like you need a vacation from your holiday break (and everyone who is with you), consider scheduling some down time to rest, relax, or even take back some time for yourself.

Do share gratitude.

The holidays remind many people about the importance of gratitude, so show it in your personal life! Whether you are telling your husband how grateful you are for a deep conversation, complimenting your wife’s handiwork on holiday projects, or just happy to be spending some time with someone, let them know! You’ll feel better as well.

Don’t criticize.

The flipside to gratitude? Keep criticisms to yourself, especially if they are not actionable. For example “please remember to take off your boots before coming inside since it’s snowy out” is a much more actionable statement than a critical “quit messing up the house and being a slob!”

Do spend time alone.

Alone time is important for each partner in a relationship to recharge, reconnect with him- or herself, and be ready to engage fully again. Grant yourself permission to take time alone, set effective and loving boundaries , and then check out the last step.

Don’t ignore each other.

This one seems obvious, but many couples who seek couples counseling in Highlands Ranch choose to avoid problems in the relationship by avoiding each other. This is an effective short-term strategy, such as if one partner is frustrated, but in the long-term, it only makes you grow further apart. Spend time together doing something you love this holiday season!

While every couple struggles with relationship challenges at some point, others are at a stage where it may ruin their relationship entirely. Don’t let it get to this point! If you and your partner need help seeing eye to eye , contact Dr. Steve Lazarus, Psychologist in Highlands Ranch, to start solving problems today!


How A Learning Evaluation Helps Your Child

Now that the school year has officially kicked off  and gotten into the regular swing of things, it is likely that you have already met with your child’s teachers at least once to see how he or she is doing at school. For psychologists in Littleton, fall and early winter can be busy times, because this is the time when teachers and parents are starting to notice any challenges that children may have with learning. If you’re wondering if your child should have a learning evaluation by a professional psychologist, consider these important benefits.

Understand performance. The most important benefit that a learning evaluation will provide you, your child, and his or her teachers, is a full understanding of performance. For example, a professional may find that your child’s performance is stronger in some areas than others, which can explain why only some subjects are a struggle.

Identify areas of strength. Speaking of strengths, helping your child to understand her strengths is an important tip. Even when children are frustrated with challenges in one area, knowing that they are doing well in another area can help them to learn ways to work around less-developed areas. For example, a child who is struggling to develop early letter skills may harness her strong visual-spatial skills to remember how the “b” and “d” form a visual “bed” when the word is written.

Develop a plan to combat weaknesses. No learning evaluation is complete without an effective plan to address weaknesses. This may be the time when your child’s learning evaluation reveals a learning disorder, challenge in executive functioning, or an associated challenge such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)  or other underlying mental health concerns. By knowing what the challenges are, you and your child can work with a behavior psychologist in Colorado to develop a plan for success.

Feel better. When your child isn’t able to access learning as easily as his peers, he knows there is something “wrong.” Make sure he never thinks that there is something “wrong” with him by explaining the great plan you will come up with based on the results of the learning evaluation.

Dr. Lazarus has worked with many children and adolescents, providing evaluation and treatment of common learning, attention, and mental health concerns so they can show the world their best side. To find out your child’s learning strengths and weaknesses, find a skilled psychologist in Littleton today!