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By Reydon Stanford


"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!" Remember that little saying? Too bad it is so very far from the truth. Actually, words are very powerful, even more so during a child's formative years when a large portion of their self-esteem is being developed. This can become a real dilemma for children, especially since school can be, (and usually is), a very competitive and sometimes harsh environment.

Since self-esteem is a product of how we view ourselves amongst our peers, it stands to reason that some school-aged children might find it difficult to develop a healthy self-esteem within the competitive and sometimes cruel environment of school. Add to this the possibility that a child might have a learning disability, feelings of social awkwardness, (such as shyness), or feel inadequate in areas of sports, music, leadership or academics and the dangers to self-esteem can become enormous.

Within school-aged children, self-esteem has three major inputs, in my opinion. These include their classmates, (peers), their instructors, and their family. Since most parents have little or no control over the first two, it is very important that we work diligently to help our children work through feelings of inadequacy generated from classmates, instructors or coaches. We should also make sure that we're not adding to the weakening of the self-esteem, by expecting perfection from our child. We should never tie our own self-esteem to our child's abilities...this is an extremely dangerous thing to do.

Most of us remember what it feels like to be made fun of at school. No matter how "perfect" someone might seem, kids can always come up with something to make fun of. Noses, ears, lips, height, weight, feet, skin color, hair, eyes...all have been used as a target to tease others. Add to that the use of ‘nicknames,' and the pain can truly be severe for kids in school and cause them to develop a low self-esteem, not to mention a hatred of going to school.

Another area where kids often struggle with self-esteem is competition, which is a huge part of academics. Football, Basketball, Track, Soccer, Swimming, Cheerleading, Band and the list goes on an on, where kids and their talents, (or lack thereof), become apparent for all to see. Although there is a healthy side to competition, we as parents need to make sure that it is placed into its proper perspective with our children so that it doesn't cause them to feel inadequate or devalued in anyway. Although competition is meant to be fun and teach ‘team-work,' it often becomes a serious event, with parents screaming at their kids or the referees. In fact, I think that it is hugely important to help our children understand that everyone has different gifts and talents and that we as parents should help them discover what their talent is and help them pursue it, if they wish. For most kids, it's "OK," to be lousy at a few things in school, as long as they feel good about the fact that they are good at other things.




  1. Make sure that you don't push your child into areas where they are destined to fail or do poorly as this sets them up for bouts of low self-esteem. If your child is not athletic, (for example) and is pushed into pursuing sports, it can have long-term negative results. Work with your child on what they can and want to do and help them pursue and achieve great results in that area.

  2. Work to never correct or punish your child in front of his peers. Most of us have sat in the stands at a ball game yelling at our child to do better. However, this can be a source of great embarrassment to your child and leave them thinking: "If my own mom and dad think I'm terrible...I must be!"
  3. NEVER assume your child is progressing well emotionally at school. Oftentimes, children will not tell their parents when they are being made fun of, harassed, embarrassed, bullied or failing at school. It is the parent's job to be acutely aware of what is going on with our children by always being a wise and encouraging voice to them. Ask, ask, ask your child daily how things are going.

  4. Although it is true that we as parents can't, nor should fight all of our children's battles for them, it is important that we know WHEN to step in if we need to. There is a line that it easily crossed where a parent should step in and speak with faculty if their child is being harassed, bullied or made fun of endlessly.




Children are no different than adults in that we all reveal how we are feeling with our words, facial expressions, moods and actions. If a child who is normally happy, suddenly comes home sad, acting blue, depressed, anxious or fearful, it is the obligation of parents to find out why. Sadly, in some cases, parents have become so busy that they miss all the warning signs that their child is in emotional trouble and do little or nothing to help them, leaving them to suffer alone. Most people would agree that events like the Columbine High School shootings might have been prevented with more parental awareness and involvement. Again, the key is to be aware and actively listening to what your child is saying. When kids say things like, "I'm so stupid," or "I hate my hair," they are expressing events of low self-esteem and can be helped by an active parent.


It is also important to realize that oftentimes, adverse changes in your child's behavior is a desperate attempt for them to ‘fit in,' with their peers. When children begin to exhibit rudeness, foul language, cockiness, etc., that they've never exhibited before...chances are they learned it at school and are engaging in it, in order to fit in. Peer pressure is a very real...and sometimes deadly power. We must teach our children that each person...including them is different and that different is GOOD!




Its easy for us to assume that any negative effects to our children's self-esteem, developed while attending school will be overcome as they grow into adults. Although this is a possibility, it is not a good one. Most people carry events that damaged their self-esteem into adulthood and continually act and react upon it's effects. The more we as parents can constantly praise and reassure our children, helping them to develop their unique talents and gifts, the stronger and more stable adults they will become.



Copyright by Reydon Stanford 2010

Your Comments are Appreciated


8:33 pm cdt 




By Reydon Stanford



When I was a kid in school, my favorite time of day was recess. I always thought it was such a sweet gesture on behalf of the teachers to give us a break so that we could go outside and play for a bit, taking our minds off of the hum-drum events of patterned learning. Little did I realize that they had an ulterior motive for recess...expending nervous energy. Looking back, I realize that this method was often used at home as well and usually began with a frustrated comment from my mother. Something to the effect of: "Would you kids go outside and PLAY!"


I hate to admit this, (age alert), but when I was a kid we didn't have video games to keep us quiet for hours while our parents stepped over us to go about their own chores. We had three television channels and one of those was 'snowy.' During the day, Soap Opera's were the only thing on anyway and that held little interest for we went outside and let our imaginations guide us. We always came in around supper time, physically exhausted, hungry and CALM.


Of course, things have changed. Many kids, (and parents), no longer seem to have a healthy outlet for nervous energy and the results are profound. Many anxiety and nervousness issues could be directly linked to a lack of burning energy through physical exercise. I also believe that some learning disorders are magnified due to unexpended nervous energy. Obesity is another problem that is associated with a lack of burning physical energy.


The symptoms of nervous energy range from a mild internal feelings of nervousness, to external behavioral outbursts. They are both saying the same thing: "We have too much physical energy built up and it's trying to GET OUT!!!" Often times this nervous energy is mis-diagnosed as behavioral problems.


Most people are aware of the long-term effects of continual stress, including its links to cancer, diabetes, heart-disease and premature aging. What many people are 'unaware of,' is that unexpended nervous energy can greatly add to daily stress. This alerts us that physical exercise is not only healthy for our bodies, but also is vital for our emotions and mental health as well.


Have you ever seen someone sitting in a chair with their leg making rapid slinging motions? Nervous energy. Have you ever seen someone biting their fingernails? Nervous energy. Have you ever seen someone twirling their hair around a finger? Nervous energy. Have you ever had to stop your child from drumming on the dinner table? Nervous energy. Have you ever seen someone popping their knuckles? Nervous energy. Ever seen someone inhaling a cigarette with the deepest breath possible? Nervous energy.


Nervous energy is created by the body as it produces fuel to power us through the day. If our intake of fuel is greater than our physical need for it, it results in nervous energy...or 'excess energy.' Excess energy is then transformed into nervous energy, much like an engine over-revving.




In order to burn excess energy, we must become physically active. I suggest some form of exercise before breakfast, since much of the excess energy we have is left over from the day before. Taking your dog for a brisk walk around the block can go along way in helping to expend excess energy with the result of you feeling more calm and relaxed as you enter into your day. If you don't have a dog, just drag a leash around the block...just kidding.


If you find yourself biting your nails, or feeling uncommonly nervous, it might do you good to go for a walk or even to stand up and do jumping jacks...unless your in Church, which might be inappropriate.


If you get little or no exercise, you'll find that a single walk around the block might not be enough to expend the large amounts of excess energy you've built up. However, given a few weeks time of becoming active will cause your stress levels to fall and leave you feeling much least it should.


Copyright by Reydon Stanford 2010

4:34 pm cdt 







By Reydon Stanford


A drug addict sits alone in a dark room, longing to be free from the chemical prison that is slowly stealing his life. An alcoholic looks at herself in the mirror, remembering vague portions of her drunken stupor the night before and suddenly feels overwhelmed with embarrassment and shame. An obese person walks breathlessly across a room to find some more ‘comfort food' to end their nervous craving and hates the person they've become. A housewife looks around in dismay as the home she dreamed of making for her family is filthy and disorganized, as she guiltily awaits her third soap-opera of the day. A father sits alone in his chair, angry at himself for allowing his temper to get the best of him again, causing his children to scatter in fear and leaving him feeling like an utter failure. In these moments of desperation and others like them, the human heart cries for change.

  The biggest percentage of people seeking counseling do so with a strong desire for change within their life. Many of these people have come to a place where they feel like they have reached an emotional, mental or physical breaking point and realize that without significant change, they will wither and die; if not literally, emotionally. They seek counseling to help them figure out a path toward change and oftentimes even wonder if change is possible.

  We often desire AND NEED significant change within our lives in order to further prosper or to get ourselves out of the messes we find ourselves in. But how do we change? What are the first steps toward significant change? Is real and lasting change possible? The short answer is: "Yes. As long as we're alive, change is possible."


  As anyone who has conquered a figurative ‘demon' within their life can tell you, Change is not easy. It is however possible, which is the place all change must start...the possible. Once we stop the ‘vicious unhealthy thinking habits that trap us' long enough to see clearly for a few moments, we can come to a realization that change is possible. Then we must embrace our need for the possible.

It is my opinion that all personal change must first come with a change of mind. Since our emotions and subsequently our actions follow our thinking, it stands to reason that change begins in the mind and then is followed by changed emotions and then results in changed actions. 

  Unless we can first work to change our minds, we will find that the emotional strength and the actions needed, (to foster change), will simply not be powerful enough to fulfill our desire for change.

  We often think of ‘Will Power,' as the missing ingredient we need to bring about the changes we desire. We might think: "If I only had the Will Power to exercise everyday and stick to a healthy diet, I could lose the weight I need and want to!" Still, Will Power is only strong when a person decides for themselves what their WILL is. For effective change to happen, we must convince our minds that the changes we seek are fully our will and are not an option. When we waver back and forth between the questions of: "can I do this," or "is this really what I want?," the mind cannot move forward in faith and purpose, because it is operating in confusion. When confusion is present, we have little or no will power to continue on the course of action necessary to effect lasting change. Why? Because moments of weakness will over-power our desire for change.

  Therefore, the first step on the journey to lasting change is to MAKE UP OUR MIND that change is no longer an option. Making changes begins with a powerful choice of our own free will. It is a personal declaration that "I will do whatever it takes to ‘have and hold' the changes I want and need! Failure is not an option!"

  Interestingly, research seems to indicate that when people make such declarations, (even to the point of writing them down like a ‘self-contract'), the mind begins to empower itself to effect the changes.

  The next step in effecting real and lasting change is to research what methods are available to achieve the changes desired. This is where good counseling can truly help. Whether the counseling comes from a medical doctor, articles on the Internet, or other valid sources, it it vital to get a "plan of action" that will give you a direct road-map to follow toward your desired goals. These methods might include medical help, a stay in a Rehabilitation Clinic, a strict diet and exercise program, etc.. Once the ‘method' or ‘methods' for change have been decided upon, the mind will begin to prepare the emotions. Since a decision has been made to make changes and a ‘method' has been decided upon, the brain will work with the emotions to assist those goals. Since confusion has now been dealt with, the mind can produce healthier, more positive emotions. This will greatly improve your chances for making positive changes. Positive thinking, produces positive results.


  Thirdly, it is important to examine your surroundings for roadblocks. If, for example, you desire to lose weight and get into shape...the grocery list and restaurant list much change. Donuts, and frequent trips to the fast-food restaurants must be viewed as roadblocks to your success. Every journey toward change will be met with roadblocks. It is vital that you study your surroundings for these roadblocks and eliminate them whenever possible. Likewise, If you are trying to break free from an alcohol addiction, you will have to view a social life through the bar scene as a roadblock and therefore eliminate it.

  Next, it is important that you surround yourself with a SUPPORT SYSTEM that can provide mental, emotional and physical support to your goals. The Internet is rife with Blogs of communities where people who are working to effect various types of change can communicate with one another for support and inspiration. With that said, it is also important to distance yourself from people who might be having a negative effect upon your chances for real and lasting change, whenever possible. The presence of a healthy environment and support system is vital to your chances of success. Remember, you have a choice, (in most cases), to choose your personal environment.




The journey towards real and lasting change will require you to be patient in achieving your ultimate goal, and realistic in how fast that goal can be achieved. In many cases, people fail in their goals for change by making unrealistic demands upon themselves. For example, if you desire to lose a great deal of is unrealistic to think you can simply quit eating until you achieve your desired goal. Such attempts are counter-productive and almost always end in failure.

  All you should focus on is being successful TODAY in your goals. If you will just eat correctly TODAY and get adequate exercise TODAY, that is a very reachable and realistic goal, in the area of weight loss. The mind, the emotions and the body can handle a journey that is taken a day at a time. It cannot handle a long journey that is being attempting all in one day. It is simply too overwhelming. The good news is; if you just reach your goal TODAY, in a few months of TODAY'S, you will see massive change!!!

  Finally, I try to be very careful not to write flippant or ‘feel-good,' articles, simply for their short-lived inspiration. I realize how difficult change can be and that sometimes, it takes several attempts before a person really can reach their goal. I do however, want to encourage you that change FOR YOU is possible. It's your turn! Now is the time to begin your journey to the place of freedom you long for.


4:25 am cdt 


"THE INTIMACY OF DEATH: The Pain of Grief"



(The Pain of Grief)


By Reydon Stanford


When I was six years old I watched in horror as our family dog ran across the street into the path of an oncoming car. The dog died violently and instantly. Having never witnessed a death of any kind, to that point in my life, it was a traumatic experience and one that caused me to make a vow to myself, that I would never love another dog because the pain was just too great. I held to that promise for many years.

In the past ten years I've had to say goodbye to my mother, a sister and my father, not to mention several close family and friends. Each one of these deaths has affected me differently, usually based upon the level of emotional intimacy I held for each one. They were all painful losses, losses that I still grieve from time to time for no apparent reason except that they are worth grieving.

As a firm believer in Heaven and Eternal Life, I do find comfort in knowing that my loved-ones are living on in a place that I will one day travel to myself, where there will be a great reuniting and where death no longer threatens us with parting. Still, in the mean-time, I am left with waiting and clinging to the memories and the love that I continue to feel for them. I think most of you could understand those feelings.

Losing someone we love to death is one of the most heart-breaking, life-altering experiences we have as humans, yet if we live long enough, it is a certainty. Experiencing the death of a loved-one causes our minds to become overwhelmed with enormously painful feelings of great loss, helplessness, loneliness and fear. Even if the death was expected, due to a lengthy or terminal illness, we still find ourselves in great pain as we adjust to the realization that we will not see that person long as WE live.

Death, under normal circumstances is difficult enough for us to cope with, (both mentally and emotionally), but it can feel unbearable when death is sudden and the result of a tragic accident, a violent crime, a sudden illness or suicide. It also should be said that most people who lose children to death, report this to be the greatest loss of their lives, unlike anything else they have suffered.

So what causes us such enormous pain when someone we love dies? That is a very difficult question to answer in simple terms because the dynamics are so vast. As human-beings we thrive through our involvement in relationships. Relationships help us to become who we are, help us define where we belong, how we think, what we believe and what we find comfort in.

To love and be loved is the cry of the human heart and when we lose someone we love through death, the loss is great because it affects us deeply, on an intimate level. In other words, it is very ‘close' to us and deeply personal. When our mind registers a loss on such a great scale as death, our emotions follow suit with painful thinking and unbearable feelings.

If you've experienced the death of someone very close to you, you may wonder if you will ever feel ‘normal' again. Although I do believe, with time, the pain associated with the loss becomes much more bearable, I do not believe we are ever the ‘same' again. The loss is usually too tragic for that. I also believe that it's okay that such a loss changes us. Not only is the loss too great for us to simply return to ‘normal,' but we oftentimes realize that our continued grief for someone we've loved and lost is a fitting memorial to them and to our love. In many ways, grief reveals our own ability to love greatly. If we didn't love...we wouldn't grieve.

Please don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying that a person should lie down and grieve themselves to death following a painful loss, or that they shouldn't make steady progress toward resuming their own life. I'm merely saying that feeling grief is a result of loving someone so much, and that is very admirable.




Although it is normal to experience great amounts of grief, following the death of someone close to us, it is also normal for grief to run it's main course, allowing us to return to our own life for the sake of those who still remain around us and depend upon us. If the pain of your grief is still very fresh, even though much time has passed since your loss, I recommend that you find a good counselor who can help you understand your emotions and the effects they are having on you.

In some cases, finding an end to grief is difficult because the person who remains tends to blame their self for the loss. It's actually quite common for some people to take the blame for another's death, thinking thoughts such as: "I could've done more, I could've said more, I was so selfish and blind!" This type of thinking is usually delusional and is rarely grounded in the truth. No matter how prepared we might feel, the death of someone we intimately love is a tragedy and often catches us completely unable to least initially. Tears and days of sadness are normal. They honor your love. They are not a sign of weakness.

Finally, I encourage you to become proactive in memorializing your loved-one, rather than simply leaving it internal. Although there are aspects of your relationship that you will want to keep private, finding a way to publicly memorialize your loved-one can help you find a positive way to experience your memories and grief. It also adds to the memory of the life that you've lost.


Copyright by Reydon Stanford 2010


(Personal comments or questions regarding this article can be made on the Homepage of this site, or directly privately to Reydon at

2:03 am cdt 




(The Self-Esteem Killer)


By Reydon Stanford


                Have you ever felt stupid?  Weak, ugly, fat, skinny, too tall, too short?  Who or what made you feel that way?  Most likely it was self-esteem, a demanding and oftentimes mean ghost that can haunt a person throughout their lifetime.  

The danger with self-esteem is that it causes us to be vulnerable to several outside influences, many of which may not be healthy sources of accurate information and therefore might provide us with a false sense of "self-worth."  Adding to this danger of deception is the fact that much of our self-esteem is developed while we are still in our "Formative Years," (ages 3-13, typically); years that most children are subjected to the hardships of trying to ‘fit in' among their school-mates and often feeling quite unsuccessful at the attempt.  Also, the formative years are vulnerable to deception due to the immature and the still-developing brain, which cannot always determine for itself what, is true versus what is false.

                If I had to define what self-esteem is, I'd say that it's: "The way we view ourselves in relation to the rest of society, especially our peers."  Commonly asked questions regarding our self-esteem are: "Where do I fit in?" or "Do I have what it takes to compete among my peers?"  "Am I pretty enough, handsome enough, smart enough, athletic enough, rich enough, cool enough, or talented enough?"   These types of questions range in emotional sensitivity from ‘mild wondering', to ‘obsessive worry,' consuming the thoughts and actions.

                Again, the problem with self-esteem is that we oftentimes base it upon the voices and actions of others, or even worse; our own perception of what others "might" think.  This dilemma obviously leaves a great potential for us to have a ‘false view of ourselves,' and when that happens, emotional turmoil ensues.

                There are basically two extremes that self-esteem often involves.  First is a sense that we do not meet up with the expectations of others and end up feeling like we are of little or no value to others and therefore do not like ourselves.  The results of such a mindset are serious and can end with a person going completely against their nature in order to secure friends and a feeling of self-worth.  When this happens it leads to a host of other problems, such as vulnerability towards be constantly manipulated.

The other extreme is ‘arrogance,' which is a false sense that we are better than others based upon our looks, intelligence, social status, or race.  Either of these two extremes is a serious flaw in the mental and emotional make-up of an individual and can leave a path of emotional pain or destruction in its wake.

                Self-esteem is a powerful commodity for our success and happiness.  If we have an accurate and healthy self-esteem we can accomplish great things through the usage of our gifts and talents that flow freely.  However, if our self-esteem is built upon the words and actions of others, or our own deceived perceptions of what people expect of us, it can leave us feeling depressed, saddened and confused.

                In short, a self-esteem based upon our acceptance of who we are as an individual, allows us the freedom to explore how God created us and to embrace those talents and gifts, while self-esteem based upon conformity causes us to feel confused, weak and obsessive.

                Since you're reading this article, it is probably safe to assume that you don't feel too great about your self-esteem or there is someone you care deeply about that is suffering from a low self-esteem.  With that in mind, I want to encourage you to simply STOP for awhile and re-examine what you have based your own self-esteem upon.  Have you based it upon what others have said about you?  Have you based it upon what you "think" other people "think" about you?

                One way to test whether or not you have a healthy self-esteem is to ask yourself a few questions.  First: "Do I care too much about what other people think about me?"  Before you answer bravely with a statement such as; "I don't care what anyone thinks of me," let's look a little deeper.  Do you feel very uncomfortable leaving your house without having your make-up on, your hair washed and styled or at the very least...looking your best?  If so, you DO care a great deal what other people think.  Although there is nothing fundamentally wrong with wanting to look your best, there is something wrong when you do so for fear that others might see you in a negative light and such a thought is very uncomforting.

                In reality, the healthiest self-esteem comes when we realize that God created each one of us uniquely different.  We each have different DNA, different fingerprints, different ideas, different desires, different tastes and so forth.   Sadly, society seems to want us to CONFORM like gingerbread men, crafted with a cookie-cutter, rather than embracing and rejoicing in the fact that we are each uniquely individual and that individuality is what makes us valuable!!!

                I've spent most of my life playing the piano.  There are other people who can play circles around me, without a doubt.  However, not only do I play the piano, but I also sing, write, race cars, counsel, teach, tell corny jokes and the list goes on.  My point here is that it is not ONE of these things that make me unique, but the combination of them.  Sure there are piano players much better than me, but what about piano players who can also win at racing cars???  See what I mean?  Just like me, you have a host of things that make you uniquely individual.  It is not how much you are "alike" other people, but how you are different that accesses your true value.  Embrace your talents, desires and gifts as uniquely individual!

                Finally, I want to warn you against focusing upon the negatives in your life in regards to self-esteem.  We all have weaknesses, we all have faults.  (Anyone who tells you differently is not being honest...or is delusional).  It's alright to admit your weaknesses, but it is not alright to focus upon them.

                If you're suffering from a low self-esteem, begin looking at all the attributes that make you individually you!  Embrace them, empower them and you'll find you like yourself much better.  As an unexpected'll probably find that others like you much better that way too.

Copyright by Reydon Stanford 2010

(Questions or comments regarding this article can be made here in the comments section of the website or by private consultation with Reydon at

2:04 am cdt 

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The Pain of Divorce
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