Continuing our focus on Mental Health Awareness this month!

Did you know humans are supposed to worry about things? It’s part of our nature! Worry keeps us alert, allowing us to react to things quickly. Anxiety can be normal in stressful situations such as public speaking or when taking a test. When a person’s anxiety becomes excessive, there are ways to calm it down.

We found this helpful video to help explain anxiety and worry.  Remember, stop worrying about worry! We have been worrying for as long as humans have existed!

Video Credit: GoZen

Until next week, Be Wise!

 

This month we want to share some tools for maintaining mental health as we work to bring awareness to mental health issues in our world!

One of the tools we often teach kids and teens to utilize when they feel anxious is called Grounding. When your mind is racing, grounding can bring you back to the present moment. It is a great way to calm down quickly.

Grounding basically means to bring your focus to what is happening to you physically, either in your body or in your surroundings, instead of being caught up in a cycle of thoughts that might be causing you to feel anxious.

There is some SCIENCE behind all of this, too!

When we start to think about something stressful, our amygdala, often referred to as the “feeling center” of the brain, goes on alert. It is really great for getting us ready for an emergency but sometimes it kicks in to action even when there isn’t a threat present.

Here’s how it works –

First: We have a negative thought about a situation (remember a thought doesn’t necessarily mean it is real),

Then: Our amygdala says “emergency! emergency!” and triggers changes in our body such as tightening muscles and revving up the heart and lungs,

And Then: Our amygdala starts to think that these body changes as further evidence that something is actually wrong and it’s off to overwhelmed and worry-land!

Grounding techniques help us break out of this vicious cycle. Re-focusing on our bodies and what we’re physically feeling, we can get out of our heads and into the moment.

Below is a great graphic to use and print for your fridge or to have in a binder to remind yourself of some great grounding techniques!

 

Image credit: @gmf.designs

 

Stay Grounded and Be Wise!

Ask yourself, “When things aren’t going well in your family, how do you “start over”? Is it ever too late to grow wiser together?

May is Mental Health Awareness month. In the month ahead, we will be highlighting some ways that your family can build healthier habits in both physical and mental wellness. We will also be sharing some important statistics, data and facts about mental health and wellness in the US and our world.

One thing we know as we begin this discussion of mental health is that it is never too late to start again.

Some of our therapy team share their thoughts about family and how the good moments and the not-so-good moments can both help shape our family’s wellness.

 

 

Dominique Adkins, Ed.d., LPC, NCC, ACS:
Life is full of wonderful moments. It is also full of challenging ones. Families often forget that these moments are all temporary. I encourage families to mindfully embrace the wonderful moments as they can be a source of knowledge and strength for the challenges.

Positive moments can also be used to create a family action plan and practice the skills/strategies for surviving the tough moments. When things in the family are not going well please remember it will not last forever. There is a tendency to avoid difficult moments and feelings which only prolongs the suffering.

The key is to recognize the challenge then implement the strategies that offer temporary relief to survive the moment which allows for a fresh start in the next moment. In the next moment, the goal is to shift the family into a non-blaming and non-judgmental pattern of interactions which allows for the family to grow wise together!

Amanda Beyland, LCSW: 
There’s always room for growth whether it is individually or within your family. When things get a little rough, it may be difficult to picture coming out the other side so the hard times may feel drawn-out.

Think of these times as an opportunity to develop and learn as a family, whether it is through new communication skills or a different way of problem solving. Try not to get stuck and spend too much time focusing on the negative of the situation. Instead focus on how things are going to improve once the situation has been resolved: accept it as a challenge and then focus on overcoming it.

Kasey Cain, Resident in Counseling:
In the world of social media where everyone posts their perfectly curated family moments, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking everyone has it better than me. This can be particularly tempting when things aren’t going well for your family. Regardless of why your family may be encountering challenges, here are 5 suggestions for hitting the “refresh” button.

1. Don’t ‘Should’ on yourself. Instead of focusing on what you think should have happened or be happening, focus on what IS happening. While you are focusing on your reality, remember to –

2. Be kind to yourself. People have approximately 70,000 thoughts a day and about 80% of those are repeating and negative. It takes practice to stop the negative thoughts and purposefully create kind self-talk.

3. Practice an attitude of gratitude. Developing an attitude of gratitude supports health and happiness. The healthier and happier you are, the better equipped you will be to persevere through family challenges and develop your own resilience.

4. Take a Break. If you are finding yourself engaged in an argument or a power struggle walk away. Saying something like “This really isn’t helpful so I’m going to take some time to calm down. I hope we can revisit this when we are a bit calmer.” can diffuse a situation. Problem solving is not effective when in crisis mode so it is important to return to calm before trying to identify solutions.

5. Ask for help. Some people view asking for help as a sign of weakness or an embarrassment. In reality, being able to know when you need help and reaching out is one of the strongest and smartest moves you can make. Everyone encounters challenges. They may not post about it on their Facebook feed, but know that you are not alone. So, go ahead and “Like” your friend’s “perfect” picture but don’t forget to “LOVE” your moments, even the messy ones, too!


Until next week, Be Wise!

Photo Credit: © Anatoliy Samara | Dreamstime.com

Congratulations! Your child is already a creative genius by virtue of being human. Humans are far more creative than any other species. Sure, chimpanzees have come up with ideas like termite fishing (using a stick to get tasty termites out of a hole), but most of us would contend that inventions such as space travel and the Large Hadron Collider are slightly more impressive. 

Yet humans vary in creative ability – some of us are simply better at thinking outside the box than others. Children start to demonstrate their creativity from at least the age of one  by exploring objects. By two, they can  invent ways to use new tools on their own and from around eight years  they can even invent their own tools. 

Virtually all kids are creative, it’s part of their nature. But is there a way to make them even more creative? Science suggests there is – here are five tips based on the latest research. 


Lead by example

Be creative when you’re around your child. A  recent study found that highly creative parents have highly creative one-year-olds. Previous research has found that this relationship holds  even when kids reach adolescence. You may wonder if these relationships exist because of genetics – research has after all  linked specific genes to creativity. But twin studies have found that genetics accounts for  only a small proportion of people’s creativity. So it’s much more likely that children learn to be creative from their parents. 

Indeed, experimental studies have found that when children  watch someone else be highly creative, they become more creative themselves. So if you want your child to be creative, it’s a good idea to make the effort to be creative yourself. 

How can you do this? A simple way is to come up with lots of different ways to use an object. For instance, when you’re around your child, you could use a towel not just as a towel, but also as a cape, a blanket, a hat and so much more. Or have car chats about the creative ways to travel from home to the grocery store, and tell imaginary stories together about the secret superhero lives of your child’s teachers. 

Abracadabra!

Photo Credit: © Karelnoppe | Dreamstime.com

Watch magical films with your child. One experiment found that if children watched a certain 15-minute video clip of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, containing magical content, they were more creative several days laterSo break out the popcorn and butter beer, turn off the lights and enjoy! While the research hasn’t been done yet, in theory this could apply to books as well. There are tons of YouTube videos of how to create different things so pull those out as well, and get to the craft store! 

Keep dancing

Photo Credit: © Vadimgozhda | Dreamstime.com

Challenge your child to a dance-off. In a recent experiment, one group of children was taught dance routines to pop songs. Another group of children was instructed to improvise their dancing, by, for instance, thinking of all the different ways they could move their arms. Children who did the dance improvisation  came up with more original ideas on unrelated creativity tests than children who learned dance routines. So put on your leg warmers and give Beyonce a run for her money! You can have a dance party any time of day – host one during breakfast or slow dance together before bedtime. 

Give freedom

Photo Credit: © Dmytro Zinkevych | Dreamstime.com

Stop telling your kid what to do. Multiple studies have found that when parents have a high level of demands for their children – and at the same time fail to be responsive to their kids’ own ideas – children  end up with lower levels of creativity. But, on the contrary, if parents are less demanding but more responsive to their kids,  children’s creativity increases. Letting your kids solve their own problems – even when their solutions don’t work – helps build their critical thinking muscle. We will need very creative adults to cure the diseases and solve the environmental problems of the future.  

So perhaps rather than compulsively booking your child into every music and art class you can find in order to boost creativity, you could follow your child’s lead and see where they take you. 

Understand the touchscreen generation

Photo Credit: © Wavebreakmedia Ltd | Dreamstime.com

Many parents are strict about limiting their children’s access to TV and computers partly because they believe these devices limit their creativity. Research suggests this is not necessarily the case. Indeed, let your child play with apps that allow them to express themselves. 

Researchers recently followed a small group of children in their homes and at school when using tablets. Using observational methods, they found that apps which allow children to write, paint, collage, draw and make music  encouraged creativity in children. This was not only the case when playing with the apps, but offline as well. So clear your schedule to help your child record their next top 40 hit, or sit to have your portrait done. 

While a variety of research gives us clues about how to encourage creativity in children, there’s still way more to learn. In particular, we know very little about how creativity emerges in children under four years.  

One thing we DO know is that being in NATURE inspires us all – so get outside! 

Stay Wise!

 

 

 

 


Source: Originally published in The Conversation with some additions from your friends at The Wise Family. 

 

 

Kasey Cain, Resident in Counseling at The Wise Family:

Creativity is the use of the imagination. It is the ability to go beyond traditional ideas, patterns, relationships, ideas, etc. and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations. Creativity is often described as original, artistic, imaginative, and innovative.

Pablo Picasso once said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” I believe all people are born with curious natures and the desire to explore and create in some way. As we age, however, we begin to censor ourselves for a variety of reasons – fitting in, adhering to socially accepted norms and/or traditions. Sometimes, the most well-meaning parent can inadvertently squash their child’s creativity development.

I recently gave a talk at a school parent coffee event focused on the over-scheduled, stressed out child. One of the parents said, I have my child in all of these activities (sports, piano, world language) to support her in being well-rounded and creative but she just seems unhappy.” Another parent noted a similar schedule of activities because he did not want his child to ever “be bored.” These children are lucky to have access to such an amazing array of activities. However, they are also always being instructed, monitored, or directed.

One of the most impactful ways to encourage creativity is to allow time and space for unstructured work/play. Children need to learn how to sit with the feeling of “being bored” and move through it, learning how to independently fill their time. Freedom in play allows children to develop self-confidence, social skills, problem-solving, perseverance, and critical thinking. This does not mean you need a fancy playroom or every art supply in the world.

Kids are like mini MacGyvers (I aged myself with that reference, didn’t I?). Give them a toothpick and some tin foil and they will create a field of solar panels or the next space shuttle to galaxies unknown. Keep your boxes from Amazon and who knows what will emerge. Activate your child’s senses by taking a walk outside. Make up stories. The possibilities are endless.


 

Please feel free to share your experiences in how you’ve sparked creativity at home with your child(ren). The power of play is so important.

Until next week, Be Wise!

Photo © Sarayuth Punnasuriyaporn – Dreamstime.com

 

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

Carl Rogers (1961) defined creativity as it relates to the human experience as “the emergence in action of a novel relational product, growing out of the uniqueness of the individual.” Relating this definition to encouraging creativity in kids of all ages, creativity must result in discernible products that emerge from the child who is a unique individual (Rogers, 1961).

Creativity also allows for the child or teen to identify their creative strengths which can be translated to all areas of life and increase self-esteem. Gladding (2011) found creativity can be taught (or at least encouraged) and creativity is heterogeneous and does not follow a set pattern.

Creativity has a great deal of benefits for those of all ages. Creativity will improve self-esteem, effective communication skills, insight into patterns of behavior, as well as create new options for coping with problems (Neswald-McCalip, Sather, Strati & Dineen, 2003). Join your children in an exploration and discovery of an approach to creativity while remembering there is no one “right” way.

 

Amanda Beyland, LCSW:  
Creativity opens up a world of possibilities for kids. Time for creative play gives children the opportunity to make up their own game, put on a play, or make an artistic masterpiece. The chance to be creative is everywhere but children need to have the space to explore.

It’s important that there is time in their day to work through the creative process and have the freedom to discover and try new ideas. Allow children to show their creativity in a safe environment where they know that their ideas are great and not something that will be made fun of. Fostering creativity allows children to feel confident enough to take a step out of their comfort zone and try different ways of doing things.

Creativity goes beyond artistic expression and can help children with problem solving, being a more flexible thinker, as well as be more confident with their own self-expression.


Be on the lookout for more insight on sparking creativity in your kids at any age. Our clinician, Kasey Cain, has some great information to share.

Until next week, Be Wise!

 

 

 

Resources: 

Gladding, S. T. (2011). Using Creativity and the Creative Arts in Counseling: An International Approach. Turkish Psychological Counseling & Guidance Journal, 4(35), 1-7.

Newswald‐McCalip, R., Sather, J., Strati, J. V. & Dineen, J. (2003), Exploring the Process of Creative Supervision: Initial Findings Regarding the Regenerative Model.

The Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, 42, 223-237. doi:10.1002/j.2164-490X.2003.tb00008.x

Rogers, C.R., (1961). On becoming a person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Thought we’d have some fun with you this week after learning all about Executive Functions!

SLANG! Specifically teen slang!

Like – Hey Bae, Don’t be salty cuz you ghosting and being all boujee! Why you curve me, yo? 

I ACTUALLY heard a teen say these EXACT words yesterday! Seriously! And I knew what they meant!  Unless the slang has already changed – which it probably has since yesterday! I was so proud!

Share the below infographic with your teens and see how many are words they actually use, and then let us know in the comments section!

Last week, AWESOME and WISE clinician, Kasey, shared with you some the facts about Executive Function (EF). We often describe EF as “the New IQ” and talk to folks about how EF is cluster of skills accomplished by the prefrontal cortex. You might consider the role of a football coach or an orchestra conductor when you think of the EF – having to manage many functions (or team members or musicians) at one time, and in harmony, to make a goal or a beautiful melody happen. That’s what is developing in your the busy and powerful minds of your kids and teens.

We think the brain is AMAZING. 

So AMAZING, in fact, that Dr. Amy is writing a book about it for parents, teachers and therapists! SHHHHH! She hasn’t announced it yet but we’re telling you early because you are part of the family! More to come on that! Meanwhile, here is what AWESOME and WISE clinicians, Dominique and Amanda, had to say about EF –

 

Dominique Adkins, Ed.d, LPC, NCC, ACS:
When considering the executive functioning skills of teens and young adults it is important to remember the frontal lobe is evolving and will continue to do so until about the age of 25.

The frontal lobe is the part of the brain responsible for decision-making. A teen’s ability to make mature decisions is often overwhelmed by “gut” instincts instead of thoughtful reasoning. Growing technology further enables and increases the occurrence of emotion driven decisions. It important that parents do not shame teens for their tendency to make more emotion driven decisions. The key is to integrate Emotion Mind (feelings) and Rational Mind (thoughts) to achieve a Wise Mind which is a combination of the best parts of emotion & rational mind.

For teens to achieve a Wise Mind, they first must increase awareness of their emotions and thoughts. Mindfulness activities can help teens increase self-awareness and clue into the moments when taking that extra moment can be beneficial.

Taking time to be notice and be aware of their internal process allows teens the opportunity to integrate their emotions and thoughts which increases balanced decision making and organization. Join your teen in working toward a wise minded lifestyle by incorporating a five minute or less mindfulness activity into your family’s weekly routine!


 

Amanda Beyland, LCSW
Executive functioning skills help the brain to get things done in an organized, efficient way and function effectively throughout the day. When children struggle with executive functioning they may have a difficult time starting a task, using their working memory, utilizing flexible thinking, or staying organized. This could mean remembering a big project last minute, taking a long time to get ready for school in the morning, losing homework papers, or becoming overwhelmed with a relatively simple request.

Kids depend on their executive functions to help them with everything from getting through their morning routine to bringing home everything they will need for their homework. Checklists, planners, set routines, and time limits are just a few things that may help to make things more achievable. Try giving children one task at a time or making them a list of chores so they do not become overwhelmed or frustrated when they may miss a step.

Kids can be more organized at school with the use of binders for specific subjects and checklists of what needs to be brought home each day. Practicing mindfulness, or encouraging kids to pause and reflect, may help with focus and problem solving.

 


Until next week, Be Wise!

 

What is Executive Functioning? Executive functions are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals.

See what our guest contributor, Kasey Cain, has to say about EF.

 


Take a moment to think about the skills/behaviors you feel a person needs to exhibit in order to be successful (however you define success). Chances are words like organization, resilience, problem-solving, being a “go-getter”, reflect, self-control, communicating, etc. came to mind. All of this, and more, are part of a person’s executive functioning.Executive Functions (EF) are a set of brain-based abilities that control and regulate other abilities. They are skills and processes people use daily to make plans, keep track of assignments and deadlines, the ability to include past knowledge into work/discussion, evaluate ideas and reflect on work, ask for help, engage in group dynamics, wait their turn, etc. If you hear an educator or therapist using the umbrella term of EF, she is probably talking about one or more of the following:

Inhibition – Ability to stop one’s behavior at the appropriate time, including stopping actions and thoughts.Shift – Ability to move freely from one situation to another and to think flexibly in order to respond appropriately to the situation.

Emotional Control – The ability to modulate emotional responses by bringing rationale thought to bear on feelings.

Initiation – The ability to begin a task or activity and to independently generate ideas, responses, or problem-solving strategies.

Working Memory – The capacity to hold information in mind for the purpose of completing a task.

Planning and Organization – The ability to manage current and future oriented task demands.

Self-Monitoring – The ability to monitor one’s own performance and to measure it against some standard of what is needed or expected.

For some individuals, these abilities develop naturally by watching others and learning from experience. Others may experience challenges in acquiring these skills which may bring academic, social, and/or emotional difficulties.

If you are concerned that your child is struggling with their executive functioning, please know that these skills can be developed. A key role of my work as a school counselor was to support students in developing these skills. I continue to do this work as a resident in counseling with The Wise Family and I am always happy to connect with families and talk to delve deeper into this topic.

 


Until next week, Be Wise!

Check out our two open groups below and see how your child’s social skills can blossom with play.

Register today and receive our FREE print out about Attention Seeking Behaviors.

 

 

Our popular Social Skills Tinker Group starts again this winter on Feb. 23rd!

Our Social Skills Tinker Group is back this winter! This group lets your child learn and practice social skills while involved in highly engaging, meaningful tasks. Hosted by The Wise Family and Lipsett Learning Connection, this group provides hands-on social skills training. This series will target essential skills such as problem solving, navigating how to share materials, and how to ask for help from peers and adults. Space is limited!   

For more info and to register>>>


We are excited to introduce a NEW GROUP! Game Lab starts this winter on Feb. 23rd!

This group lets your child learn and practice social skills while involved in highly engaging, meaningful tasks. Hosted by Lipsett Learning Connection and The Wise Family.

This group is designed to engage children ages 8-10 in social-emotional learning through play. Group members will begin by exploring a variety of games (board games, cards, competitive, cooperative, etc.) and the skills and strategies used during play.  Group members will then work collaboratively to create original games.

This group will support skill development in the following areas:
* Communication
* Problem Solving
* Emotional Regulation

For more info and to register>>>


We have several group options offered throughout the year. Check our Group Therapy page for updates on upcoming registration. Play is a powerful tool for your children to grow and fine tune those social skills.

Until next week, Be Wise!