Motivating Your Partner or Child
Here's what you can do.
Do you ever feel like there's a fine line between motivating and nagging? As a caregiver, this very well may be your biggest challenge. That's because the issue at hand is not just picking up clutter or remembering trivial things, it's maintaining the health of someone you care about. When in doubt, remember that honesty is the best policy. In a quiet, non-stressed moment, remind your loved one that you are motivated by concern for them. Tell them about your fears (within reason, especially if it's a child), and ask them if there is something you can do differently that would help them better manage their diabetes.
Here are some other ways you can be less of a nag and more of a coach:
Be a model. Whether the person you care for is a child or an adult, the number-one best thing you can do to motivate him or her is to be a good role model. So model good, healthy eating habits and make physical activity a big part of your life. Then, it's just a matter of making that friendly invitation to join you. Give it time, of course. Your loved one may need to watch you for a while before developing the interest and the courage to do the same. In the meantime, you are taking care of yourself and your health – which, in itself, is modeling good habits for your loved one!
Create a motivating environment. Take a look at your loved one's surroundings. Are there any changes you could make (or help with) that could inspire and encourage the person you care for? Perhaps you pick up a couple of pedometers and have them available for friends and family as they head out the door. Before you know it, you may have a competition going on for whose taking the most steps each day. Maybe you could clear a space for a daily, 15-minute workout and keep a gym mat, some hand weights and a balancing ball stored there. Keep a big bowl of apples on the table, and stock the fridge with healthy, protein snacks such as string cheese and low-carb yogurt.
Listen. Sometimes, the best way to encourage someone to do better is simply to stop talking and start actively listening. Listen to their complaints, their fears, and their successes (no matter how small). By listening, you are silently validating what they think and feel and showing them that you are on their side, battling the obstacles diabetes presents and celebrating their victories. If the person you care for is not a big talker (and you tend to do most of the talking), try a new strategy and just find ways to be with him or her in silence, and see what happens. A long car ride, a jigsaw puzzle, weeding a garden –– these are all great opportunities to be a good listener.
Finally, remember your sense of humor. Make fun of life, make fun of diabetes, and make fun of yourself. Nothing heals better than a good laugh.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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