Thursday, January 7, 2010

7 Tips for Air Travel & Security Line-ups

With air travel getting more stressful and less dignified, here are 7 tips for check-in, security line-ups, and when on board the plane.
  1. Get your boarding pass ASAP – Most airlines offer 24 hour advance check-in online and often you can change your seat if you don’t like the one they pre-selected for you. Less likely to be bumped and avoid the stress of being late for the check-in deadline when you have your boarding pass in your hand.
  2. Dress for security success - Be aware of the accumulation of metal you may be wearing from shoes, buttons, buckles, to wire support bras to avoid the pat down frustration & humiliation search exercise under the glaring eyes of other frustrated travelers resenting you for the delay. Wear comfortable shoes without metal (ie: running shoes – most business shoes have metal in them) Take your belt off and shoes if you are unsure about the metal content of them.
  3. Which security line-up to get into – if possible, get in the line-up that has more business travelers as they tend to be more savvy in packing & preparing for security. Sometimes families, party holiday people, and those delightful elderly who find it all new and confusing may delay the line.
  4. Pack carry-on for success – YES, put all liquids in small 3 oz containers in a plastic bag. Even though every Transport Security Agent (TSA) will tell you, amazing how many people don’t do it and you’ll further prolong the ordeal for everyone else in line if you’re not prepared. A stuffed bag is harder to detect what’s inside so take out extra things to put in the bin if you’re packed to the max – electronics, anything metal. Regrettably, many flights currently will not allow ANY carry-on luggage so know in advance what restrictions there are.
  5. Wear extra support socks as your feet will swell during flight.
  6. Have food handy - Any flight under 3 hours will not offer you food & with delays, line-ups, & tight connections, eating can be challenging. Most airports tend to specialize in pizza, muffins, junk/fast food & carb heavy questionable sandwiches so bring something healthy. Examples: nuts, prunes, energy bars, tuna & crackers to-go that are found in grocery stores (fish, prunes, nuts are good for the brain) and have drinking water available.
  7. Always be polite and respectful to the Transport Security Agents (TSA) even if they may be rude and less than diplomatic. Give eye contact with a pleasant expression. TSA’s are almost in the same hated category as parking meter attendants. Don’t give them a reason to feel defensive or disrespected – you don’t want to be singled out as they take the stress of their job out on you.
Be patient, take a breath, and try to have a positive attitude about it all.

Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

20 Tips to Communicate with your Teenager

Effective communication is one of the most important skills yet when our children become teenagers, it gets more challenging. Communication may become more stressed, painful, frustrating, confusing, anger inducing, heart wrenching.

These communication tips are designed to help you open communication, resolve conflict, and reduce stress for you and your teenager.

  1. Put Yourself in Their Shoes. It’s a challenging time. Their developing bodies, brains, hormones, peer pressure, independence, and natural inclination to defy authority is in full swing. Think about it, would you want to go through puberty again?
  1. Build their self-esteem. It’s a time when they need it most. They yearn for parents to be proud of them and be accepted by others - even if they don’t show it. Low self-esteem is one of the most crippling diseases out there.
  1. Sleep is a Factor. Before we assume they are lazy remember, teenagers do need more sleep. Also, when overtired, we can’t think straight. A sleep depraved teenager and fatigued parent is not a good mix for effective communication.
  1. Be a Guide on the Side - not a Sage on the Stage. Most of us don’t want to be told what to do and how to do it. Educate means to bring out from within, not being a know-it-all.
  1. Reinforce Positive Attention. Attention is a form of reward. Acknowledge what they do well so they are inclined to do it again. Some kids behave horribly because any attention is better than none at all.
  1. Be Specific When Praising. The more general it is, the less impact it has. Acknowledge the specific behaviour or skill they used when praising them.
  1. Never Say Always. Accusing them of Always doing or being a certain way often triggers the shut down, tune out response.
  1. Avoid Saying Never. Never comes across as blame, accusation, or guilt inducing. You’ll be tuned out again and resentment will build.
  1. Be Aware of Stress. Under stress, we can’t think as rationally and may say things we regret. When you and/or your teenager feels stressed, it may be wise to delay communication.
  1. Listen. If you change the letters around, it also spells the word Silent. Hear them out without interruption. One of the best ways to honour someone is to listen to them.

  1. Ask for Specifics. If you don’t understand what they mean, ask for an example or something specific. In encourages understanding and avoids assuming, or getting it wrong.
  1. Don’t Nag. A teenager’s most common complaint with parents. Teenagers don’t always listen, they forget constantly, it’s mentioned in scientific/medical journals. Expect to experience the frustration of chronic reminder syndrome. Even when you’re right, they’ll resent it when nagged about it.
  1. Involve Them in Conflict Resolution. Ask them what they see in the way of resolution? What would they do if they were you? It encourages negotiation and accountability.
  1. Criticize in Private. Being criticized in front of siblings, friends, or in public is rude and displays bad manners. Losing face in front of others may only motivate your teenager to resent you and themselves more.
  1. Prepare In Advance. It is wise to take time to think and prepare how to best communicate. Forethought wins.
  1. Be Objective Not Personal. “By not providing your resume in time, you missed the opportunity to be considered for the job” is objective. “You’re so lazy, you didn’t even get your resume there on time” is personal.
  1. Change Body Language to Reduce Conflict. Standing over them, in their space, pointing your finger, or standing full-on face to face (especially father and son) can increase stress. Try sitting down, equal eye level, stand to the side so shoulders are closer than torsos, even tilting your head to the side implies your openness to listen and decreases their defensiveness.
  1. Be The Parent. It’s great to be their friend yet remember, they need you to be the parent. Call them on it when they go astray or too far. Reinforce what is right and wrong, talk to them, and lead through example.
  1. There is an End in Sight. Coach them through it and don’t be too hard on them or yourself. Provide a safe environment to grow and make mistakes. Sometimes we don’t realize how much we needed, respected, or learned from our parents until we become adults.

Having a child is when we truly understand and experience the depth of love. When they reach those trying teenage years remember, communication challenges are normal. You are not alone. Just do your best and trust the rest.