By Kasey Cain, Resident in Counseling 

As children grow and develop, their ability to pay attention and focus changes. When someone comes to me and says “My Kindergarten kiddo moves a lot,” my reply is, “Good. She should move a lot.” However, I do believe it is important to monitor behaviors. If the same child’s activity level impacts her learning, friendships, self-esteem, etc. it might be time to look closer.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

ADHD can be challenging to identify and also challenging to understand. It is a real, biological condition caused by differences in brain wiring. For a child with ADHD it is key to remember that movement is often a must and while it seems he/she is not paying attention, in reality, the movement is most likely helping the child focus. There is a lot of information on ADHD to support educators and parents. My “go to” resource is www.understood.org.

Understood.org is a collaborative of 15 nonprofit organizations, each diverse in their specialties, but united by a common desire to help parents help children succeed. Their website is a treasure trove of information on ADHD (along with other learning challenges). You can find an ADHD Fact Sheet, an example of A Day In The Life of A Kid with ADHD, Symptoms at Different ages, and so much more. My personal favorite is the “Through Your Child’s Eye” under the Parent Toolkit tab. This feature allows you to experience firsthand how frustrating ADHD can be through use of simulations and videos. I encourage you to explore their resources.


Until next week, Be Wise!

 

 

 

Schools are in full swing, and assignments are popping! And we are all starting to feel that heavy – I-have-so-much-to-do-where-do-I-start-feeling – that makes us all want to get back under the covers.

If something just doesn’t “feel right” and you aren’t sure why, you may be dealing with a mental health condition.

We are here to tell you that it is OK to NOT BE OK sometimes.

Did you know that half of all mental health disorders begin by the age of 14, and about 75 percent begin by the age of 24? But it’s also important to know that mental health issues are common and treatable.

Stress and loneliness can also impact your school year. While you aren’t necessarily dealing with bills, difficult bosses, and frustrating commutes, there are plenty of situations that can cause stress. Things like getting good grades, preparing for the future, loneliness and body appearance all are things that can cause stress. When your stress starts impacting sleep or what you are eating, when you can’t that sad feeling – it could be something more serious.

It’s also normal to feel lonely sometimes, but when you are lonely a lot, it can affect you in a number of ways. Research shows that chronic loneliness can translate to poor sleep, high blood pressure, greater risk of suicidal ideation, and even alcohol and drug use.

Mental Health America (MHA) has also developed tools and resources to help increase your understanding of stress and loneliness and is providing materials on the topic for you, parents, and school personnel.

Don’t suffer in silence! It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and seek help. Free, confidential, and anonymous screening tools are available at www.MHAScreening.org to check in on your symptoms and to find resources to help.

While you do not get to choose what happens to you, you do get to choose how you respond. Learn more HERE. This school year, make smart choices about how to deal with stress and loneliness – and learn why your mental health matters.

Just like physical health, taking care of mental health struggles early can help to prevent more serious problems from developing in the future. If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be experiencing a mental health problem, it is important to act before Stage 4. Start the conversation. Seek help from a trusted adult. Remember there is nothing to be ashamed of and that there is help and hope.

Don’t know how to start the conversation? MHA has tips and information to help get you started HERE.

There are also serious signs that someone is in crisis and needs more immediate help. These include thoughts or plans of hurting oneself or another person. If you or someone you know is in crisis call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “MHA” to 741741, or call 911


Until next week, Be Wise!

Continuing on last week’s topic of establishing a routine –

This week we focus on creating healthy routines for kids with ADHD.

 

 

Building routines with all children and teens is an essential element of helping them feel safe and calm. Routines can be especially valuable for those diagnosed with ADHD, or for folks that just need more help getting focused.

Below is a downloadable and customizable PDF from ADDitude Mag that lays out some structured routines that could make everyone’s day easier. Stay tuned next week for 10 Tips for Making Bedtime Easier (using routines, of course) and later in the month, Family Routines.

(Click the below image to access the PDF) 


Until next week, Be Wise!

Habits are powerful but did you know it can take up to three to four weeks for a new habit or routine to form? Easier said than done.

 

No matter how old you are, creating a schedule of daily tasks and activities will help you form good, productive habits and can help break the bad ones. As we ease back into the school routine, come up with a plan for every member of the family to help in the day-to-day. Whether it’s the mad morning rush that has you going crazy, or the routine of getting homework done on top of dinner making and after school activities, setting up a healthy routine not only teaches independence, establishes expectations but it is also beneficial for everyone! Especially the parents! 🙂

 

Here’s what our team has to say about establishing routines:

Dominique Adkins, Ed.d., LPC, NCC, ACS:

As teens are getting into their routines for the new school year, it is important to clearly communicate expectations.  Each teens’ routine should take into consideration their unique needs. It is also essential to listen to the concerns and ideas they may have.

Working together to create the routines increases teens ownership and follow through with established routines. Incorporating a moment of gratitude into each day is also beneficial especially as the workload increases.

Finally, remember to check in throughout the school year to make any needed adjustments.


Amanda Beyland, LCSW: 

Sometimes a lack of structure, or routine, can lead to things feeling a little bit chaotic. Routines help things to run a bit smoother while helping to give kids a sense of independence (and take a little stress off parents). Once children understand the routine, whether it is getting ready in the morning, what to do after school, or settling down for bedtime, they know what is expected and, after some practice, are able to get things done (mostly) on their own.

Routines may also include things like weekly chores, a special activity after a sporting game, or family activities. Keeping these routines helps not only with building responsibility but also with strengthening family relationships.

Routines don’t need to be complicated and it’s okay if things don’t always go exactly as planned! Simple and flexible is fine while keeping in mind the goal of bringing more consistency to the family.


Kasey Cain, Resident in Counseling:

Routines are key to providing structure and safety to children. They can also foster self-discipline and self-esteem. While children may push back against certain routines and appear to be “anti-routine”, children actually need and crave them.

In order to establish a routine, the main thing to remember is to STICK TO IT. If you try the routine for one week and it hasn’t worked, don’t stop. It takes approximately 2 months to form a new habit. Consistency and predictability are a must for a routine to be successful and to become, well, routine.


Vanessa Mackall Lal, Resident in Counseling:

Now that the school year has officially kicked off, exploring new strategies that will support the mental health and academic success of our kids all year round, is vitally important. Establishing a daily routine is just one way that parents can teach and model the use of effective time management skills and organizational skills that will benefit their children at home and within the classroom setting.

Daily routines can be especially helpful for anxious kids and teens, often helping to alleviate fears of the “unknown” throughout the day. Creating a morning, afternoon, and evening routine for your child will help them develop the time management skills they will need throughout their lives, while providing a sense of structure throughout their day.

A daily routine can also help kids and teens improve their ability to effectively transition from one task to another. Teaching our kids how to implement this strategy will not only benefit their well being as children, but will also propel them forward throughout the developmental phases of their life.

Until next week, Be Wise!

Summer has flown by! Our newest team member, Vanessa Mackall Lal, offers more insight on how to ease back into a school routine this week. Read on below for her back to school tips! 

 

Vanessa Mackall Lal, Resident in Counseling:

As summer begins to wind down, most of us have noticed all of the back to school commercials and radio ads intending to remind us to prepare for this seasonal transition. It can be a bit daunting returning to the classroom after all of the summer fun for some kiddos. Preparation, and encouragement can go a long way in helping kids and families ease into the upcoming school year with confidence!

Listed below are a few back to school strategies designed to help kids and families celebrate their transition into the upcoming school year.

  1. Host a Back to School Party – Going back to school is an event worth celebrating! Gifts and school supplies, like new clothes, retro pencils, and themed notebooks can help kids and families view the back to school transition as something to look forward to, and gives kids the opportunity to solidify friendships before returning to school.
  2. Create a comfortable “study space”, equipped with a school calendar – Helping kids reset and refocus at home is usually more successful when there is a designated area to complete projects and homework assignments. Using a school calendar to record due dates, and highlight school events can help strengthen organizational, and time management skills, while reminding kids when there are exciting school days to look forward to, like Spirit Week!
  3. Meet and greet with school administrators – If your child will be meeting with a new school counselor, school administrators, and support staff throughout the year, don’t hesitate to schedule a brief meet and greet during the first week of school. Helping kids understand how and when to seek additional support during the school day can help ensure that they feel safe and a part of their school community.

Let’s celebrate the upcoming school year and all of the amazing opportunities for learning and personal growth that will follow!


Keep this in mind in the coming weeks – With the start of a new school year, it is a good time to think about WHAT we say to our youngsters and HOW it impacts their day-to-day experience, as well as their long-term success at school. Read HERE for more tips on building self-esteem in your youngsters.

Until next week, Be Wise!

Only a few more weeks of summer!! Can you believe it?

 

How does your family JUMP back into the ‘Going Back to School’ transition? Read on for tips to help going from lazy summer days to school mode from our team of clinicians!

 

Photo by Brandon Morgan on Unsplash

Dominique Adkins, Ed.d., LPC, NCC, ACS:
As we begin to prepare for the new school year, do not let future worries ruin the last few moments of summer. Remember we only have control over what is happening in this moment so let’s make it count! These last few weeks offer a wonderful opportunity to prepare and set the tone for the new school year.

  • First, set a positive tone grounded in strong preparation. Each new year is an opportunity for a fresh start.
  • Second, review previous strategies without dwelling in the past. Determine which strategies to incorporate again and which to discontinue in this new school year.
  • Third, encourage teens to start making the necessary adjustment to their sleep patterns now to make the first day of school transition easier.
  • Finally, practice being mindful of the present moment and new opportunities to excel. Parents and teens take time to mindfully experience a moment of gratitude at the end of the day.

Positive experiences NOW provide a foundation for positive results!

Amanda Beyland, LCSW: 
Although we may all not be quite ready to admit it, summer is coming to an end and a new school year is just around the corner. Preparing to go back to school can be a time full of both excitement and anxiety. With the anticipation of seeing friends and teachers there may also be some nerves as kids are preparing to meet new people, learn in a different classroom, and get back into the school day routine.

In order to help with these transitions, take advantage of “meet your teacher” night, if your school has one, to help familiarize your children with the classroom they will be learning in and who their teacher is. It’s helpful to try and get back into the routine of things a few days early to help make the first day of school a little less stressful. Try setting the alarm, getting ready for the day, and see how long it takes to be ready to get out of the door. It may help your child get excited for the school year by including them in back to school shopping so they can pick out something whether is it a cool new notebook or a lunchbox with their favorite design.

While there will be lots of preparation happening, speak positively about the school year and all the great things your child has to look forward to!

Kasey Cain, Resident in Counseling:
For as long as I can remember I have gotten nervous about going back to school (or the first day of work, or the beginning of anything really), and I love school. I love it so much I have gone back multiple times and picked a career as a school counselor so I can be in schools. With many years of experience in going back to school personally and professionally and in supporting students and families, I believe that in preparing for the transition back to school, it is important to do the following:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether you are new to a school or not, your child is entering a new grade with a new teacher. It is OK to reach out with questions, comments, or concerns.
  • Prepare for the transition. Begin talking about starting or returning to school at least a week prior. Make sure you have school supplies and have discussed the schedule. What time will your children have to wake up? Is this different from what they have been used to during the summer?
  • Keep conversations positive and validate any feelings of worry. Apprehension about a new school year is normal.
  • There are many books focused on starting school such as Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes. Reading these and discussing with your kids is another great way to get ready.
  • Lastly, if you feel like you’re are concerned about how much your child is worrying, reach out to the school counselor. Or you can reach out to us here at the Wise Family. We are happy to help and hope the 2019-2020 school year is wonderful!

Be on the lookout for Back To School Tips from our newest team member, Vanessa Mackall, next week!

Until then, Be Wise!

 

Most of us are still in full summer mode… beach, relaxed schedules, fun in the sun and plenty of pool time.

We wanted to pass on a nice reminder of how you can provide continuous mental health support for your child in many ways throughout the year.

Here is a great infographic from @believephq.

Enjoy these dog days of summer! Back to school is right around the corner! 


Be Wise!

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

Our newest team member, Vanessa Mackall, adds to our summer activity list this week with some great suggestions to help keep the fun going all summer long! 

Have any summer traditions you like to do with the kids? Please do share with us!

Summer is a fantastic time to ditch the old routine and try new and exciting activities with friends and family. Stepping out of our comfort zone can be both challenging and very rewarding, offering plenty of shared memories and laughs along the way. Here are a few suggestions for families seeking to spend quality time together, while taking a break from their daily routines.

  1. Try a new sport or outdoor activity – Tennis, Golf, Kayaking, Tubing, Horseback Riding, Hiking, and other outdoor activities are typically low cost and lots of fun for families.
  2. A day at the park- Pack your picnic basket and head out to a scenic park of your choice (Great Falls is one of my favorites, if you are local). Don’t forget the Frisbee!
  3. Family Ice Cream Social- Nothing beats the heat quite like ice cream. Get creative while making signature sundaes with the family.
  4. Embrace the Day Trip – Don’t have a lot of time to spend in one place? No worries, day trips to local beaches and lakes can be a great way to splash around with the family when time is limited. If you live in Northern Virginia, Watermelon Park offers plenty of fun-in-the sun outdoor activities for families.

Summer presents a great opportunity for families to spend quality time together, while creating memories that will last a lifetime. Enjoy!


Until next week, Be Wise!

Summer is in full swing! Vacation, lounging at the beach, swimming, chasing the ice cream truck…

How are you doing with those summer activities? Our team of experts have come up with some suggestions for all ages to keep the fun going all summer long!

Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash

Dominique Adkins, Ed.d., LPC, NCC, ACS:
As summer reaches past the half mark teens become increasingly aware of the fast approaching end of summer. With tryouts and school activities starting back up in the coming weeks it is important to STAY PRESENT. Summer is NOT over yet. Here are a few ways to have summer fun and make exciting new memories:

  1. Grab your popcorn and check out an outdoor film. For those of you who are local, each Sunday evening until September 1st, the Mosaic District features a movie.
  2. Grab your yoga mat for Free Yoga in the park on Wednesday evenings or Sunday mornings at Mosaic Strawberry Park.
  3. Check out a farmers market and try a fun new recipe.
  4. Explore a museum or monument.
  5. Practice or workout for tryouts with friends or family.

There are endless free fun activities still to come this summer. Be sure to try at least one! Take time to enjoy these moments while you prepare for the return of those responsibilities. Focus on the present moment and the stress of the future will slowly fade away so you can have fun!


Amanda Beyland, LCSW: 
Summer is a prime example of how time flies when you’re having fun. With the first few weeks of summer behind us and the routines of swim practices and camps falling into place, there is still plenty of time for fun and adventures!

  • Have a family day at the pool
  • Be a tourist where you live and explore
  • Take a trip to the local craft store and have an afternoon of crafts
  • Make your own mini water park at home with sprinklers and water balloons
  • Beat the heat and have a day at the movies (or make your own movie theater at home!)
  • Encourage your kids to plan a neighborhood bike parade with their friends
  • Get outside – have a family sports day, go bike riding, or explore one of the nature trails

Have fun, try new things, spend time together, and most importantly enjoy the summer!


Kasey Cain, Resident in Counseling:
Can you believe it is already July? The summer season is well under way and school will be starting before we know it. Still, there are plenty of days left to enjoy and so many ways to do so. To find out what summer fun and activities kids like best, I went straight to the source and asked my two adorable girls (I may be biased) ages 8 and 12. Here is what they said :

  • Pool Time
  • Splash Parks/Playgrounds
  • Visit to Nature Centers and Ponds (some with kayaking or paddle boats)
  • Mini Golf
  • Amusement Parks
  • Completing Library Reading Programs and Getting the Reward Coupon Book (The favorite coupon is free ice cream!)
  • Completing the Barnes and Nobles Reading Program and Getting a FREE Book
  • Playdates/Having Friends Over (All of the above are more fun with friends!)

I have to also add my own gentle reminder that it is not just okay but healthy and important for your children to be bored over the summer. Have fun in the summer sunshine!


 

Until next week, Be Wise!

 

 

 

 

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Summer is THE BEST time for COUNSELING!

We just celebrated the last high school graduations of the season yesterday and find ourselves in the thick of the sun (and humidity in the South) and fun of the SUMMER. 

All of us at The Wise Family are having conversations with your families about continuing and beginning counseling during the summer months. Camp, vacation, and lazy days by the pool can all interrupt the regular rhythm that is the foundation of supportive therapeutic work for kids and teens. It also isn’t uncommon that the stressors inherent during the school year lesson in the haze of summer, only to creep right back up again come August.

We have a STRICT POLICY about summer therapy. We WILL talk about: 

Skills

Feelings

Behaviors

Friends

Stress

Wellness

Coping strategies

and more…

But we WILL NOT talk about school in July. School isn’t EVERYTHING so why would we work on school-based stuff 12 months a year? 

So what is there to do together? And why use our precious summer time to schedule counseling?

Here are a few GREAT REASONS TO SCHEDULE counseling for your kids and teens – 

  • Summer makes scheduling EASIER

It can be so hard for families to commit to regular, weekly counseling visits with an already packed schedule of school, sports, family obligations and…oh yeah, WORK. We often struggle fitting everyone in within the brief afterschool-before bed hours of 4-7. Summer opens up a HUGE number of options – including morning before the pool, mid-afternoon after a camp morning and late afternoon when the sun is still shining and no one is crabby yet.

  • Summer is a great time to work on EQ

EQ is the new IQ – Emotional Intelligence. We have some amazing strategies for building kids’ emotion quotient. And PLAY is one of them. PLAY helps us to connect to kids and support them in becoming aware of their feelings and how their behaviors impact others. This increase in self-awareness can help improve stress management, emotional regulation, relationships among peers and family members, and can just make your house SO MUCH CALMER.

  • Counseling sessions PROVIDE STRUCTURE

It can be fun to hang out all day and do nothing – but most kids end up playing endless hours of video games, watching YouTube videos, or even sleeping until mid-afternoon. A regular schedule of counseling sessions can help build some structure into an open-ended week, and give kids a sense of accomplishment. Some kids actually report being bored in the summer and counseling can give them an opportunity for productive social interaction.

If you are ready to improve your child’s EQ and put a bit more structure into your family’s summer, give us a call to get hooked in!


Until next week, Be Wise!