Photo by Maria Elena Zuñiga on Unsplash

This is a time of year when lots of kids and teens come in expressing feelings of worry and anxiousness as the new school year begins. New teachers, new layout, new friends – not to mention old homework, old lunch menu and old bullies.

As parents, we wish we could shield our youngsters from life’s worrisome moments, but navigating anxiety is an essential life skill that will service them in the years to come. We wanted to share with you 5 phrases that might help your child/teen identify, accept, and work through anxious feelings and set them on the road to mastering BIG feelings!

1. “I love you. You are safe.”
Being told that you are safe by the person that you love the most in the world is a powerful affirmation. Remember, anxiety makes us feel as if our minds and bodies are in danger. Repeating that they are safe can soothe the nervous system.

2. “Let’s go play catch.”
Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian-American Psychologist, is best known for his research into something he calls “FLOW.” The idea behind his theory is that the nervous system can only process so much information at a time and repetitive tasks such as playing catch, kicking a soccer ball back and forth, or knitting actually trick the nervous system into focusing on the task rather than the stressor.

3. “How big is your worry? Let’s see if we can make it smaller.”
Quantifying anxiety in terms of size is much more effective for young children than a number scale. Figuring out the size of a worry can also help align the size of the reaction (which is sometimes a bit mismatched). A worry the size of a mouse can be put in an imaginary cage. A worry the size of a tree can be “chopped down” using your child’s imagination.

4. “You will not feel this way forever.”
It is so easy for kids, and ESPECIALLY teens, to think that anxiety will last, at its current level, for the rest of their lives. In reality, anxiety tends to be changeable. Reassuring your young person that their anxiety will fade helps remind them that they will feel normal again one day.

5. “Let’s count _______.”
This mindfulness technique requires no advance preparation. Counting the number of people wearing sneakers, the number of kids in the room, or closing your eyes and verbally recounting the layout of the space are all ways to bring the mind away from the ‘feeling center’ and back into the ‘thinking center’.

Be Wise!



Adapted from ideas shared by Go Zen at

Get to know us at The Wise Family!

We know that parenting is a journey… not a destination. There are definitely a lot of potholes and bumps in the road but there are so many scenic overlooks. We really want everyone to see those.

The Wise Family strives to set goals WITH families and are in collaboration with family members to encourage everyone to grow together. We have an array of clinicians who specialize in Play Therapy, Neurocounseling, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. We also provide assessment and testing services to dive deeper into what may be going on with a child.

Let us provide the navigational beacon in your parenting journey!

Until next week, Be Wise.


By Kelsey Yeager, Resident In Counseling

Technology is such a blessing and somewhat of a curse, especially when it comes to kids and technology. I know I struggle with the balance of screens versus no screens as a mom. Recently Bill Gates reported that none of his three children were allowed to have a cell phone until they were 14 years old and even then they were limited in the amount they were allowed to use it, as well as other technology.

I was talking to my best friend a couple weeks ago about technology and kids. We were talking about the pros and cons of kids/adolescents having access to a phone and at what age was appropriate to get their “own” phone. She mentioned the idea of having a family phone where once a child reached a certain age he/she was able to check the phone out. This would be a stepping stone in the process of the child getting his or her own phone. This phone could be checked out when going to practice, to a friend’s house, to the movies, etc when the child would potentially need to get a hold of someone. The phone would then be checked back in upon arrival at home.

The thought behind the checkout phone is this: the child would learn how to appropriately use the phone and realize that the phone is a privilege and not a right. What I mean by “appropriately use the phone” is that the child would learn the rules and boundaries of the phone. These rules and boundaries will most likely vary some depending on the family, but they should be concrete and in writing. By having them in writing the child cannot claim he or she didn’t know the rules. A few ideas to keep in mind and to talk about, and maybe incorporate into your family phone rules, is proper phone etiquette, the pros and cons of technology, and monitoring what goes on while the child has the phone. This process will help to set the child up for success once he or she is allowed to have a phone.

Hopefully this idea will help families make wise decisions about technology and encourage responsibility!

Until next week, Be Wise.

There are lots of lists of “top ten” tips on this and that – top ten best self-tanners, top ten best local pizzerias, etc. As a part of this edition of FAMILY FOCUS, I thought I would share the top ten best parenting tips. At The Wise Family (, we refer to them as COMMANDMENTS because, more than tips, they really are rules to live by. Although we didn’t find these on stone tablets, they have been in our toolbox for decades, so credit is due to the brilliant author, with a few updates from us –


1. Set a good example. Your child looks up to you and tries to be like you. It’s fine to tell your child to be respectful, truthful, helpful, and kind. But it won’t count unless you act that way, too. PS. That goes for eating your broccoli and not being on Facebook at the dinner table, too.

2. Give energy and attention to goodness. What you feed, grows. Look for chances to reward positive behavior with your attention. Look for chances to give your attention when no negative behavior is happening.

3. Avoid giving energy and attention to badness. What you feed, grows. Kids want any attention, good or bad. If you argue or yell at your child, he will learn to misbehave more to get your attention. Instead, simply give the child a short time out where no attention is available. When quiet again for a few minutes, then you can give him attention for taking a few minutes to calm down and reflect.

4. Keep your promises. Your child counts on you to feel loved and secure. When you don’t come through on a promise, she may feel insecure, and believe that you don’t care about her. Promises are just as important whether it’s for a “treat” or for something the child doesn’t even want, like a time out. If you are not sure it will happen, don’t use the “P” word.

5. Only make promises you can keep. Don’t promise things you only wish could happen – it only hurts worse when it can’t. Also, avoid making big threats or punishments – these are promises, too. Later, you may realize that you were wrong, and take it back. Stick with promises that you can keep.

6. Use consequences, not punishments. A consequence is something that is naturally caused by a behavior. For example, when you are not being kind to others, you can’t be around people for a little while. When you make a mess, you clean it up. When you don’t finish your homework, you can’t watch TV. When you leave my tool outside, I won’t want to lend it to you next time you ask. Children learn how to behave better from having natural consequences. (Notice that we didn’t use the word “IF”).

A punishment is something that is given by an angry adult for revenge. For example, when you do that one more time, you can’t go to the park tomorrow. Punishments – including spankings – are for children to suffer. Children also learn from punishments: they learn to be sneaky and hateful.

7. Stay in control. Everyone gets mad. The trick is to catch yourself when you’re just starting to get upset or frustrated. Then you can take care of the situation quickly, before it gets out of hand – maybe by giving a time out, finding some goodness to give attention to, or taking a time out for yourself. Parents make most of their mistakes when they are mad: they yell, they argue, they give attention to badness, and they give punishments – which might also turn out to be broken promises. If you can’t catch yourself before you lose control, get help and learn how. It’s worth it.

8. Include your child. Children naturally want to help out and be included. For example, even a very young child can “help” you wash dishes by stirring the dishwater with a spoon. If you take the time to include the child and to make chores fun, he will learn to be helpful and to feel good about himself.

9. Make your child feel special. Avoid comparing children to each other or trying to give each child exactly the same thing all the time. That just fosters insecurity and sibling rivalry. Children don’t need “equal” treatment; they need to feel special. Find ways of appreciating each child for her own qualities. You can show this with special privileges, small gifts, attention, or activities.

10. Take care of yourself. Obvious, but important anyway. Parents need nutritious food, enough sleep, exercise, friends, enjoyment, a little time off for themselves… Raising kids is a big challenge. Your job is not to make your children happy, but to model happiness in your own life, work and outlook.

Connect with us at our website,, or find us in the social media sphere @wisefamilies if you have something to add to our commandments above! We’d love to hear from you!

Be Wise.

Here we are at the final day of our 5-Day Mindset challenge. And the one thing we haven’t talked about is how we talk to ourselves. Maybe talking out loud to yourself works for you, or maybe you just have an inner voice that tells you stories and guides you in your life. How we talk to ourselves plays a huge role in our lives. It’s amazing the things that we do and don’t believe about ourselves, just by the words we use. This week we challenge you to work with your kid(s) to find words and phrases that will help them keep on trying, even when things get hard.

Thanks for joining us on this growth mindset challenge! We hope it encouraged you and your children and that you were able to learn and grow together! Remember that you can get the full challenge at BIGLIFEJOURNAL.COM. And tag us with your photos on Instagram @wisefamilies or comment on our Facebook page Wise Families! We would love to hear what you thought of this challenge, and if you’d like more!

And as always, stay wise!


We’re not there YET! In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck describes a different way of thinking than most people often think. She encourages people who maybe cannot do something, to not get down on themselves, but to tell themselves, I cannot do this YET!

This fosters the growth mindset. We challenge you to think of three sentences you could add “YET” to. How does it make you feel? We also challenge you to encourage your kids to try out “I can’t do it, yet!” rather than simply saying “I can’t do it.” And in the words of Daniel Tiger, “Keeping trying, you’ll get better!”

Remember that each week of the 5-Day challenge we will be sending out another part of the challenge – to get the full challenge, visit our friends at BIGLIFEJOURNAL.COM. And tag us with your photos on Instagram @wisefamilies or comment on our Facebook page Wise Families! We would love to hear if your kids can embrace the power of YET?!

Maybe not yet, but soon!

Until next week, Be Wise!

As parents we are often aware of how are children are growing. The dress that fit Susie last week is suddenly a mini skirt and Johnny’s toes are all of the sudden smashed in the tennis shoes that seemed to fit just yesterday. Another growth area that we challenge you to be aware of is your child’s mindset. Mindset is the way that your particular brain thinks. A growth mindset is a positive way of looking at and thinking about things that occur every day. For example, “Practice makes perfect!”. A fixed mindset is when you believe that things can’t get better, even with practice.

This week we challenge you to talk with your kids about the different mindsets and ways of viewing the world. Download the graphic below to talk about the different ways of thinking. We also encourage you to challenge your kids throughout the day on their mindset and encourage them to have a growth mindset, even when the going gets tough!

Remember that each week of the 5-Day challenge we will be sending out another part of the challenge – to get the full challenge, visit our friends at BIGLIFEJOURNAL.COM. And tag us with your photos on Instagram @wisefamilies or comment on our Facebook page Wise Families! We would love to hear how your kiddos are growing!


Grow, baby, Grow!

Until next week, Be Wise!

We are taking a break from our Growth Mindset Challenge to talk about Mindfulness this week.

In my clinical work with adolescents and young adults, I find mindfulness to be paramount to their success in reducing stress and coping. Mindfulness can be a challenging practice at any age. The first step to incorporating mindfulness practice into your life is to learn what mindfulness is. Marsha Linehan (2015) shared that mindfulness is the process of observing, describing, and participating in reality in a non-judgmental manner, in the moment and with effectiveness.

To break this down a bit further – Mindfulness is “allowing” experiences rather than suppressing or avoiding them. Mindfulness helps you learn to control your mind, instead of letting your mind control you. During mindfulness practice, you direct your attention to only one thing that you are living in the moment.

Summer is a great time to start a mindfulness practice because, as I remind my clients, it means increased enjoyment of summer as you are truly soaking up all summer has to offer instead of summer breezing by you like it normally does. You know the feeling of “Where did summer go?” The great thing about mindfulness is you can practice mindfulness ANYTIME and ANYWHERE. The key is to practice and try just a few moments each day. Start small and be kind to yourself, as it will be challenging especially in the beginning. Think about the first time you rode your bike, was that easy? Did you get on the first attempt or did it take time and practice? Give yourself the space to learn and grow your mindful practice free of judgment.

Today, instead of eating lunch while having a conversation or thinking about what you have to do after lunch; try to eat lunch and notice every flavor you taste. If you are being mindful, you are not thinking about “Is it good or bad to have lunch?” You are just really having lunch. By recognizing what your lunch looks like, feels like, tastes like, sounds like – you are being mindful!

Tomorrow go on a mindful walk in the park. Instead of walking through the park distracted by thoughts of the fight you had with your friend earlier; walk through the park being aware of your feelings and thoughts about the park, how the park looks, and the sensation of each step you take on the ground.

Take time each day to incorporate one mindfulness practice in your normal routine and with time expand your mindfulness practice to multiple parts of your life. The key to mindfulness is to observe, describe, and participate in one thing in the moment free of judgement and in an effective manner. Mindfulness brings you to the window to acceptance, freedom, and wisdom. You must first simply take a breath and notice. Join me today in being mindful!

By Dr. Dominique Adkins, Therapist for The Wise Family

Cited Resources:
Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT® skills training manual (2nd ed.). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.


Learn more about Dominique here! She’s our featured clinician of the month!

Day 2 – My Word Search

Last week we learned about the ability to change your mindset. Isn’t your brain amazing? Hopefully you and your kids were able to pump some brain iron by sticking with hard things!

This week we have a brain challenge to keep the strength training going! There are two word searches with growth mindset words inside each. Some words might be harder than others to find, encourage your child not to give up! We challenge you to work with your kids on these and talk about what the words mean. Use the time during the word searches to ask your child, when was a time you felt brave? Or talk to them about a time you had to be persistent!

Happy strength training!

Until next week, Be Wise!

Day 1 – I Can Change My Mindset!

Have you ever wondered why some children avoid taking guesses and crumble at the first sign of a struggle? Do you know kids who have a history of quitting sports and activities, or giving up on school work when they don’t know the answer right away? Years of opting out of things because they are hard can lead to children believing, “I’m not good at that.” At the Wise Family, we hear lots of kids tell us that they aren’t good at math, or baseball, or even that they aren’t good at making friends.

Learning the difference between this kind of “mindset”, which is called FIXED, and the alternative GROWTH mindset can help you change the destructive pattern of self-doubt and fear of failure.

Mindset is a simple idea pioneered by research psychologist, Carol Dweck. She asserts that some people believe their intelligence and abilities are unchangeable. This is called a FIXED mindset. Kids that believe this might say, “If I struggle at this, it must mean I am dumb.” Or, “I’m not good at this. I give up.” Others have different ideas about their intelligence and abilities. Some people believe that it is possible to grow your intelligence through effort. This is called a GROWTH mindset. Kids with this mindset might say, “Math was really confusing at first, but I studied really hard all year and it is a lot easier now.”

Dr. Dweck’s advice to parents is, “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”

We at the Wise Family want your kids to have a lifelong way to build and repair their confidence, and for you to see the kind of resilience and energy that comes from a growth mindset!

We are sharing parts of a 5-day Growth Mindset challenge with you and your family to move towards this GROWTH mindset for yourselves! Each week we will be sending out another part of the challenge – to get the full challenge, visit our friends at BIGLIFEJOURNAL.COM.

And don’t forget tag us with your family challenge photos on Instagram @wisefamilies or comment on our Facebook page Wise Families! We would love to hear how your kiddos think about their own mindset.

Be Wise!