Welcome to the HPRC Blog. We've got lots of information here, from quick tips to in-depth posts about detailed human performance optimization topics.
HPRC Fitness Arena: Family & Relationships
Children benefit from summer camp experiences that enable them to gain skills, build confidence, and learn responsibility. Summer is typically a time for kids to unwind from the rigid schedule the school year can bring. While parents often want their children’s summer to be relaxing, they want it to be educational as well. Summer camp offers both experiences.
At camp, your children can meet new kids and form friendships. This can build their competence in social situations, as they gain experience getting to know new people, asking questions, and sharing their own thoughts and ideas.
Camps can expose children to situations where they can practice leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving skills too. Whether it’s working together to build a fire or establishing camaraderie on a sports team, children can spend the bulk of their days interacting with peers and exercising decision-making skills. Camps also can help your kids explore what it feels like to take on leadership roles in a group.
The learning component of camps can lead to skill attainment. When they face new adventures and implement newly learned skills, kids’ self-esteem grows. Their confidence blooms when they work through the successes and failures of new experiences as well.
Your children’s time at summer camp also can help them learn responsibility and independence, especially if it’s a sleep-away camp. When kids have to take care of their own belongings and share team responsibilities, they grow as individuals. They also learn about cooperation and how to be self-sufficient.
Kids can learn to appreciate nature through their experiences in summer camp too. Children who spend time in nature develop a deeper sense of gratitude for the outdoors.
With summer around the corner, plan your kids’ summer camp experiences now. The 4-H Military Partnership offers clubs and summer camps for military kids. And check out your local military installation's programs and activities: Make sure to select Youth Program/Centers from the drop-down menu.
As a military spouse, it can be challenging to sustain your career along with your PCS moves. The good news is there are ways to help manage the stress of job searching and cope with setbacks along the way. These tips also can encourage a positive mind-set and help you feel more prepared to meet with potential employers. Consider these strategies to help stay resilient during your job search. Read more...
Dating is a time to “experiment” with trust and evaluate if your relationship will last, so it’s normal to wonder if the person you’re dating is trustworthy. The decision to trust your new partner should depend on your own assessment of his or her commitment to you and your relationship. Mutual trust is a central component of your relationship and essential to helping it thrive.
Feeling confident that the one you’re dating will keep what you share private and have your best interests in mind helps build connection and intimacy in your relationship. Disclosing personal information—such as details from your past, your feelings on challenging topics, or intimate pictures of yourself—and knowing your partner respects your wishes not to circulate things is one way to tell if you share mutual values.
It’s risky to trust your new partner, and there’s no clear-cut way to tell if she or he is worthy of your confidence. Still, asking yourself these questions might help you gain some clarity.
- Does your partner call as promised?
- Can you count on him or her to show up as expected at your mutually agreed upon time and place?
- Do others who know your boyfriend or girlfriend report that he or she is loyal and trustworthy?
- Does he or she share information and show a willingness to trust you?
- Is your girlfriend or boyfriend respectful of your personal wishes?
- Do you feel pressured to share private information because she or he is insisting upon it?
- Have you discussed and agreed to what’s okay to share with others?
Trustworthy people have integrity and care about others. If the person you’re dating pressures you to share intimate details that you’re uncomfortable revealing, listen to your instincts. If you have doubts, it’s okay to say, “No,” now and take more time to evaluate your comfort level. A trustworthy partner will respect your wishes. To learn more about building closeness and improving your relationship, visit HPRC’s Relationship Enhancement section.
Posted 10 April 2017
Making and sustaining friendships is an important part of children’s growth and development. But military kids, who move often, might have to make new friends several times throughout childhood and adolescence. The ability to engage in conversations and openness towards others helps kids develop friendships.
What can you do to help your military kids make new friends?
- Model friendly behaviors such as greeting new people, asking questions to encourage conversation, and treating others with respect. Be open to making new friends yourself when you move to a new location.
- Emphasize the qualities that make someone a good friend. Encourage your kids to share and take turns. Children who are cooperative, helpful, and considerate tend to be more liked by their peers.
- Talk openly about what it means to be someone’s friend. Friends are honest, supportive, and fun to be with. They share common interests and don’t bully or make you feel left out.
- When your kids are younger, organize play dates with kids you think will complement your child’s personality. Before the play date, brainstorm with your child how to spend the time doing fun games and activities your child enjoys that will help build friendship.
- Allow your school-age kids to choose their own friends while passively supervising the interactions.
- Practice conversations your kids could have with new friends. Sharing thoughts and ideas is basic to any relationship, but especially friendships. Get your kids comfortable with telling others what’s on their mind and asking what their peers are thinking.
- Discuss with your kids how to effectively manage through conflicts to sustain their friendships. Encourage them to be assertive and considerate.
Helping your kids make friends can impact them in the short and long term. Acceptance by peers can affect children’s self-esteem. As kids get older, friendships provide a sense of security and an outlet to relieve stress. Having good-quality friendships in childhood has long-term consequences, too. Having few or no friends in childhood has been linked to worse health in adulthood. As a parent, you can guide your kids toward making healthy friendships today.
Posted 03 April 2017
The end of a relationship is hard. It can be complicated further if you feel wronged. But getting revenge on your ex often has more costs than benefits. The desire for revenge might come about if you feel your ex violated the rules of your relationship. Maybe she or he was unfaithful or unresponsive to things you deemed important. People who report feeling the urge for revenge say their partner compromised their own reputation or sense of self, so they felt devalued.
Such thoughts and feelings are complex to manage. Still, revenge isn’t always a productive response. You might think vengeance will make you feel better, but the relief is probably temporary. And engaging in vengeance can create more feelings of discomfort and guilt. It isn’t likely to solve your problems, and it can end up causing more harm—to you and others—in the long run. The consequences of “taking revenge” might not be clear at first, but vengeful acts also can be unethical and immoral, leading to a range of negative outcomes, including career setbacks and family or other relationship strain.
People who think revenge is acceptable tend to be less honest, less humble, and less agreeable. They might feel they’re in a position to gain from exploiting others. Such personal characteristics aren’t desirable in long-term relationships. Successful relationships are built upon mutual respect, understanding, and trust.
Instead of getting revenge on your ex, consider the following:
- If you feel hurt and wronged, practice good coping skills and mental resilience.
- If you worry your reputation is damaged, surround yourself with family and good friends who will continue to support you.
- If you’re not sure you’ll ever date again, remember that breakups are hard but also can be good for you, especially if you use this opportunity learn more about yourself.
So, set aside the urge for revenge. Handling yourself with respect and honor—even if you were wronged—reflects your strength and the characteristics new partners are likely to find attractive.
Posted 27 March 2017
In a new HPRC video, Bob Tewksbury, EdM and a mental skills coach for several major league baseball teams, discusses with Tim Herzog, EdD, how military families can effectively prepare for deployments using aspects of performance psychology. These can help service members and their families prepare mentally for challenges that can arise during deployments. The video highlights how families can benefit from getting in touch with their thoughts and feelings during this time period. According to Mr. Tewksbury, managing through a deployment requires mental toughness and the ability to focus on what you can control.
In a previous HPRC video, Mr. Tewksbury and LTC Craig Jenkins, PhD (a former SOF operational psychologist, now with the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence [USAICoE]), explore how military families can stay connected through deployments and TDYs. This new video (below) continues the conversation to help you learn more about preparing for deployments.
Family meetings help streamline communication and increase closeness with your loved ones. Use these times to get together, discuss important topics, and listen to each other. These meetings can be helpful if you need to talk about an upcoming problem or situation your family is facing. Your family also can discuss upcoming events, decide on any preventative actions you’ll take, and agree on how you’ll manage things. In addition, the meetings can clear up confusion and ensure everyone understands expectations and action plans.
During family meetings, you might talk about house rules, upcoming family vacations, or changes to your family structure. Or you might settle ongoing disputes between siblings. Invite all family members to participate and gently encourage them to come, but don’t demand attendance. Establish a productive meeting space and consider the following tips to make sure your family meetings are effective.
- Set a specific time and location. The time should work for everyone, and the location should be convenient and conducive to good conversations.
- Establish an agenda. Ask family members in advance what they’d like to cover during the meeting. As you identify topics for discussion, remember your agenda will drive the length of your meeting. Hold shorter meetings—about 10–20 minutes—when younger kids are present too.
- Get everyone involved. All members should take on a role, even little kids. Decide who will be the leader, note taker, and timekeeper. Rotate responsibilities at each meeting.
- Take turns talking and listening. Set some guidelines for how the meeting will run, including how everyone will communicate. Speak one at a time, use “I” statements, and practice good listening skills.
- Encourage participation. Ask for everyone’s opinions and ideas when problem-solving or brainstorming. Enabling all family members’ voices to be heard helps build cohesion in your family unit.
- Write down your plan of action. Once your family decides how you’ll work towards achieving your joint goal, write things down and post the information where everyone can see it.
Family meetings are successful when kids learn effective problem-solving skills and everyone in the family feels heard. Get your loved ones together for your first family meeting this week!
Posted 13 March 2017
Family meetings are important for maintaining communication and cohesive relationships with your loved ones. The environment in which you hold these meetings is just as important as what you talk about. Creating a safe, comfortable, and productive space will help your family get the most out of your meeting times. Just like office meetings, everyone should pay attention, stay involved, feel included, and be respectful too. Before you call your next family meeting, consider these tips to set up a productive meeting space.
- Minimize distractions and ban devices. While some people think they’re good at multitasking, research suggests otherwise. So, turn the TV and other devices off. That includes phones, tablets, and video games. This will help ensure that everyone is focused on the issues at hand.
- Set a comfortable room temperature. A room that’s too hot or too cold can be a distraction. And it can take away from the focus of your meeting.
- Make sure everyone has eaten. It’s difficult to focus when your stomach is growling. Hold family meetings after mealtimes or eat snacks beforehand, so your loved ones don’t get hungry when it’s time to talk.
- Set up effective seating arrangements. Make sure that everyone has “a seat at the table.” Everyone should be visible—not sitting off in a corner or behind other family members. This will help ensure that people are engaged and involved in your conversations.
It might take a few tries to figure out the best environment for your family meetings. Still, be flexible and open to trying new things to get the most out of your time together.
Girls might be at greater risk of concussion—also known as mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI)—than boys, so it’s important to recognize their symptoms and seek medical help. Female high school and college athletes report more concussion symptoms than their male counterparts. In addition, their reported symptoms are more severe and last longer than what boys experience.
In sports, a concussion can happen from hitting another player, ball, or surface with your head. It causes a disturbance in brain functioning and can lead to a number of symptoms, including headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and sensitivity to light or noise. In addition, you might feel foggy, have difficulty concentrating or remembering things, or feel confused about recent events. You also might feel irritable, sad, or nervous. While concussions can happen in any sport, they’re most likely to occur in football, soccer, rugby, basketball, and hockey.
It’s not clear why girls experience more concussions than boys. Girls are more likely to report symptoms, whereas boys tend to keep their concerns to themselves. So it might be the case that boys and girls are concussed at the same rates, but girls report their injuries more often. Hormone levels and blood flow differences in the sexes also might contribute to the rates of concussion among girls. For girls who have entered puberty, hormonal changes experienced along with their menstrual cycles might impact the severity of concussion symptoms. It takes longer for a girl to be symptom free after her concussion, and that might be due in part to where she is in her menstrual cycle.
If you have a daughter, take steps to prevent her from experiencing a concussion. If she is diagnosed with an mTBI, she’ll need “brain rest” to recover. She also should limit reading, homework, and screen time. And consult with her doctor to make sure that concussion symptoms resolve and she’s medically cleared before she returns to play her sport.
In this HPRC video, Tim Herzog, EdD, LTC Craig Jenkins, PhD, and Bob Tewksbury, EdM, discuss how military families can stay connected during deployments and temporary duty assignments (TDY). Dr. Herzog is a licensed counselor who specializes in mental performance training. Dr. Jenkins is a former Special Forces operational psychologist who went on to work with the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence (USAICoE). Bob Tewksbury, a former major league baseball (MLB) pitcher, became a mental skills coach for several MLB teams, including the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants.
Dr. Jenkins offers insights into how military families can exchange meaningful, handwritten letters to help stay connected with loved ones during deployments. Mr. Tewksbury shares examples of MLB players and their families, who also experience extended periods of separation.
Check out the video below to learn more about their suggestions on how to stay connected during deployments and separations.