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How can I help my child make good decisions?

June 19, 2015

Here’s a great idea…

In his book, The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting, Laurence Steinberg, “Children enjoy making choices because it helps them feel grown up. One way to make sure your child makes the right decisions is by limiting her alternatives to ones you approve.”

In other words…

Guiding children should not merely be about keeping them out of trouble. We should guide in a way that helps our children develop their own decision-making powers.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…

Look for opportunities to let your child make choices between options you approve. For example, you may give them the option of having milk or juice with breakfast, or the option of which book they want to read at bedtime. The more often you allow your child to make choices the better they will learn to become good decision makers.

To find out more…

about parenting, check out The Parenting Journey or See the World Through My Eyes programs at, follow us at or contact your local county Extension agent. For more in depth reading on parenting, we recommend The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting by Laurence Steinberg.

What ya gonna do with those weaknesses?

June 17, 2015

Here’s a great idea…

“Excellence can be achieved only by focusing on strengths and managing weaknesses, not through the elimination of weaknesses.”  Advice from Donald Clifton and Paula Nelson, experts in finding and developing personal strengths, in their book, Soar With Your Strengths.

In other words…

We can reach excellence by finding out what we are good at and using those strengths rather than trying to spend all of our time overcoming the things we do poorly. We need to find ways to cope with our weaknesses, but most of our time should be focused on using our strengths.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…

What are your strengths? What comes easily and naturally to you? This week try focusing on using your strengths. Try not to focus on the areas in which you are weak. You may find your weaknesses becoming less of a problem as you spend more time and energy developing your strengths.

To find out more…

For more information about personal well-being, check out our free programs: Your Blueprint for Happiness, Getting Our Hearts Right, or Managing Stress programs at, like us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Authentic Happiness. For more information on improving your strengths, we recommend Soar with Your Strengths by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson.

What exactly is romantic love?

June 15, 2015

Here’s a great idea…

In his book, Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman says that romantic love is “the idealization of another, idealizing their strengths and virtues and downplaying their shortcomings.”

In other words…

Sometimes we stop feeling romantic towards our partner simply because we stop focusing on the good things about them. Instead, we start dwelling on their faults, what we don’t like about them.

How this applies to you…

This week look for the strengths in your partner. Stop and think about the reasons you first fell in love with them. Try to find at least three good things about your partner this week. Focus on these things instead of the things that make you upset. You may find the romance being rekindled in your marriage.

To find out more…

about couple relationships, check out our FREE resources: The Marriage Garden or the Getting Our Hearts Right programs at, like us on or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also like to read the book Authentic Happiness.

Financial health leads to wealth

June 10, 2015

Here’s a great idea…

A new report just released from the Center for Household Financial Stability reveals a correlation between healthy financial decision-making and wealth accumulation.

In other words…

Researchers developed the “Financial Health Scorecard” that asked about financial decision-making behaviors such as saving, on-time payments, and debt load.  They concluded that “our financial health scorecard was very good at predicting how much wealth a group was likely to have.”  Consumers who make healthy financial decisions will increase their chances of building wealth.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life …

Based on the survey questions, here are some healthy financial practices consumers may want to adopt:

  1. Save money. Aim to save at least 10-15% of your income or more. Save for emergencies, save for retirement, save for college.  Save for large and small expenses and avoid the cost of using credit.
  2. Make payments on time. By paying on-time you increase your credit score and save the cost of late fees.
  3. Don’t carry a balance on your credit card. Interest and fees add up. Pay off your balance or keep it low to minimize costs and build your credit score.
  4. Have an adequate emergency fund that is easily accessible. Aim for enough money to cover at least 2 to 6 months of expenses. Your emergency fund needs to be liquid. That means it needs to be in a form that’s easy for you to use if you need it.
  5. Monitor your debt load. Over-extending yourself on credit can leave you vulnerable. Home mortgage payments, including taxes and insurance, should be kept to about 30% of your income or less. Debt load excluding your home mortgage (total debt divided by total income) is best at 10% or less.

To find out more…

Read the full report at (

The U of A Cooperative Extension Service provides research-based information to help Arkansans build financial security.  Visit the website at

Being an emotional healer with children

June 5, 2015

Here’s a great idea…

In his book, Between Parent and Child, Haim Ginott says, “When children feel understood, their loneliness and hurt diminish. When children are understood, their love for their parents is deepened. A parent’s sympathy serves as an emotional first aid for bruised feelings.” 

In other words…

Just like a physical cut that is ignored can get infected, children can suffer emotional injuries that get  infected with resentment and loneliness. When we stop and take time to apply first aid to the wound, it often heals quicker and hurts less. When children are having strong feelings, such as loneliness, hurt, or fear, they have a hard time listening and solving problems. When a parent stops to acknowledge what the child is feeling and helps the child feel like these feelings are normal and acceptable, it helps the child deal with the emotions and solves problems.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…

When children feel like they are not being understood or that you don’t care about their feelings, they will often hold onto those feelings more tightly; however, when they know that you understand how they feel, they can better handle their emotions. When your child is upset, try showing that you understand. Maybe you would use statements like: “You’re really disappointed. You’re mad about that. I can see that you are sad.”

To find out more…

about parenting, check out The Parenting Journey or See the World Through My Eyes programs at, follow us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Between Parent and Child.

Do you have all the serenity you can stand?

June 3, 2015

Here’s a great idea…

In his book, Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman says “Insufficient appreciation and savoring of the good events in your past and overemphasis of the bad ones are the two culprits that undermine serenity, contentment, and satisfaction.”

 In other words…

Most people spend too much time focusing on the bad things that have happened to them and not enough time thinking about and appreciating the good things. This often keeps people from finding serenity, contentment, and satisfaction.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…

Try to find at least one or two good things that happened in your life this week and spend some time savoring them. You might even close your eyes and re-live the good things. Be consciously grateful for them.

To find out more…

For more information about personal well-being, check out our free programs: Your Blueprint for Happiness, Getting Our Hearts Right, or Managing Stress programs at, like us or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Authentic Happiness.

Managing Money and Love: Creating and Sticking to a Joint Budget

June 1, 2015

Here’s a great idea

The word “budget” can stir a negative response. It’s sort of like the word “diet”. It can be associated with depriving yourself of things you enjoy.  If the word “budget” makes you cringe, use the term “spending plan”.  You and your partner are planning the most effective way to use money to reach your goals. –Dr. Laura Connerly, Assistant Professor, Family and Consumer Economics

In other words

Trying to operate financially without a spending plan is like trying to build a house without blueprints.  As you go through life, there may be several milestones for which you will need to be prepared financially such as home ownership, raising children, and investing for retirement.  The earlier you begin looking toward these milestones, the better prepared you’ll be when they arrive.

How this applies to you

Follow these tips for creating a joint spending plan that you and your partner can stick with:

  • Complete income and expense statements. Come up with realistic estimates of income and expenses.  These two lists will form the basis for your written spending plan.  Expenses should include fixed, flexible, and periodic.
  • Make a written plan. It’s easier to control spending and work toward your financial goals if your plan is in writing.
  • Be sure to include “pocket money” for each partner. Everyone needs a little “pocket money” – money they do not have to account for to anyone else before they spend it. If “pocket money” is built in from the beginning, such personal allowances offer some financial freedom and responsibility simultaneously.  You can use the Expense Record book, available from the Cooperative Extension Service, to track your pocket money expenses.
  • Review and adjust. Review your spending plan annually or as needed if your circumstances change. Set aside some time to discuss what worked well, what did not work well and what needs to be changed.

To find out more

Whether a newlyweds or a long-established couple, the Financial Smart Start for Newlyweds fact sheet series can help you find ways to eliminate money stress.  The fact sheets are available at:


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