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Dr. David Callies, Child & Adolescent Psychologist
 

Welcome to Gyro Psychology Services!

We provide psychological testing, assessment and treatment services to children, adolescents, young adults and families with a wide variety of mental health and behavioral needs. Gyro Psychology Services is committed to providing effective and compassionate psychological care that is grounded on sound research, practice and discipline.

We’ll collaborate with professionals who are involved in your child’s health care and education so that your child can reach their full potential in all areas of their lives.

Join us! We would be honored to be your partner in the behavioral healthcare of your child, adolescent and your family.

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Improving your Child’s Self-Control

Improving your Child’s Self-Control

It can be frustrating and embarrassing when your child has a temper tantrum while shopping in a crow[...]

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GYRO’S DAILY WELLNESS TIP

Parents, You Need to Help Us Manage Stress

There have been a growing number of suicides committed by teenagers in the last four months in Dubai. The devastating occurrences raise several questions: Are parents pressuring their children too much? Is academic competition taking a toll on them? Or, is today's generation too brittle to face reality?

Many youth are raised in comfortable environments and have little to work for: should this be a valid reason for them to give up on their lives when the going gets rough?

Stress management is a burning issue in today's fast-paced society among adults, but let us not forget the excessive stress placed on teens to succeed in every respect. Mental resilience in managing with stress and social pressures varies from one person to another.

Some teenagers can handle even the toughest situation, but there are also many others who struggle trying to keep it together. Youth are even more at risk because their understanding of life has still not matured. Furthermore, adolescents can arguably be more impulsive than the average adult and if they do not deal with underlying mental health issues like depression or anxiety and are left to deal with problems on their own. Sometimes even a minuscule trigger can drive them over the edge.

Increasing social expectations in a highly competitive environment is a likely cause of stress to teens in peril. Many teenagers have to get through schoolwork and extra-curricular activities such as music, sports and art in addition and excel at each activity.

How do can adults help equip teenagers with the means to deal with the increasingly stressful situations of this day and age?

Here are a few suggestions:

~ Communicate. Parents, guardians and teachers should always communicate on a regular basis with adolescents so that they can easily solve the matter without any harm.

~ Parents, if your child wants to be a professional YouTuber, let him or her. She might be the next Rebecca Black [Goodness]. Regardless, parents need to be far more open-minded as far as education is concerned. Engineers roam the streets with stressful jobs and not much to show for it -- would you rather they become successful on your terms or be happy on theirs?

~ Mandatory stress management courses in schools. Schools teach us everything -- math, science, politics, but do they teach us how to work with anger? How to stay calm in the face of overwhelming expectations? Because these are the life skills we require in order living happy lives. Knowing who the last 14 presidents are won't help us deal with our day-to-day lives.

~ Allow them to indulge in activities that bring true joy -- their dearest hobbies -- art, sports, anything they are passionate about.

~ And meditate.

Courtesy of the Huffington Post & Vedika Issrani, 13 year-old student
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13 hours ago  ·  

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GYRO’S DAILY WELLNESS TIP

7 Secrets of Highly Happy Children

When it comes to kids, people just don't think about happiness enough these days. They think about success. They think in comparisons. They think about milestones, graduations and shiny trophies. (The ones they earned, of course. Because, you know, not everyone deserves a trophy these days).

They think about things like "red shirting" a potential Kindergartener -- not so that he will be happy, but so that he will have an advantage on the playing field or in the classroom.

They think about how many soccer teams a 9-year-old should play on at any given time to increase her odds of getting a full ride to some top-rated college at some point in the future.

They think about the obstacles that make parenting such an exhausting job. Yes, they think a lot about those.

But they don't spend a lot of time thinking about what makes kids happy.

Once upon a time, childhood was filled with endless days spent outside and very little TV. Imaginations ran wild and kids made their own fun with nothing but a few Matchbox cars and an old cardboard box. They played, they learned, and they socialized. But most of all, they had fun.

Life is far too scripted today. Plans are made. Classes are attended. Craft projects are intended to mimic those found on Pinterest. Gone are the days of free play and creating something out of nothing. Many kids today are simply following a script.

That's not to say that kids aren't happy, because many kids are. Many kids live a life full of adventure and wonder in their own backyards. But many don't. Many simply follow the plan. And that's a shame, because childhood should be all about happiness.

How can we focus on happiness when there is always so much to do? We can start by taking a breath (don't worry, that enormous pile of laundry will wait for you), and then we can take a few cues from happy kids.

7 Secrets of Highly Happy Kids:
1. They eat on time.
I know what you're thinking; that's too simple to be a real parenting strategy. Think again. Have you ever been so hungry that you just wanted to scream? That's how kids feel when they miss a snack or have to wait two hours past their normal mealtime to participate in some super-fancy family dinner.

Eating at regular intervals refuels their growing brains and bodies and keeps hunger under control. When kids are calm and satisfied, they experience greater happiness.

2. They get consistent sleep.
I know, I know, some kids are better sleepers than others. While that's certainly the truth, it isn't an excuse for poor sleep habits. Kids need to learn how to sleep. It's up to us to teach them. When they are completely exhausted, they are cranky. When they are well-rested and ready to embrace the day, they are happier. Make sleep (and a consistent bedtime) a priority.

3. They play without instructions.
Unstructured playtime appears to be a lost art these days. It used to be that kids made their own fun. Today, kids are over-scheduled, dialed in and in awe of toys that essentially do the playing for them. Sure, those garbage trucks with all of the bells and whistles are neat, but be sure to mix in some wooden trucks and building blocks. And, please, take a look at the busy schedule and find some time where your kids can just play each day. Play is good for the soul.

4. They are allowed to express emotions.
Kids yell when they're mad. They cry when they're sad. They might even stomp their feet and run around in circles when they're not sure what to feel. And sometimes, if you're really lucky, they do all of that in the middle of aisle 9 at your friendly neighborhood Target store. Let them. Kids need to express their emotions. While adults know to call a friend to vent when the going gets tough, kids are a bit more primitive. Shushing them and publicly shaming them doesn't help. Let them vent in their own little way and then offer to help.

Enduring a public temper tantrum might feel overwhelming in the moment, but it's better than a lifetime of internalizing negative emotions that could lead to eating issues, depression or other emotional problems for your child.

5. They get to make choices.
Kids have very little control over their lives. They are constantly being told where to go, what to do and what to eat. A little bit of control goes a long way toward feeling happy. Let your kids choose their outfits. Allow them to choose the dinner menu one night per week. Ask them what classes they want to take. Give them the opportunity to make some decisions and watch them smile in return.

6. They feel heard.
Kids are intuitive. Even toddlers can tell when parents are tuning them out or answering on autopilot. When kids feel like their parents truly listen to them (about everything from Lightning McQueen's best race to what they learned in school), they feel more connected. This increases their self-confidence and increases their overall happiness. Listen when your children speak. It's the best way to build an open and honest relationship with your child and it makes your child happy.

Are you still with me? Because this last one is important.

7. They experience unconditional love.
Kids mess up. You tell them not to jump off the couch over and over again, but they do it anyway. And then they cry. Because childhood is largely based on trial and error, and sometimes kids just need to take chances. Forgive them. Love them anyway.

When kids know that their parents love and support them no matter what, they are more likely to take healthy risks. They are confident and secure in their decisions. They learn that sometimes people make mistakes, but there is always a chance to right a wrong.

When children know that their parents will always be there for them, for better or for worse, they are happy.

Courtesy of the Huffington Post & Katie Hurley
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3 days ago  ·  

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GYRO’S DAILY WELLNESS TIP

6 Healthy Habits To Teach Kids Who Worry Too Much

One of my favorite quotes is by Marjorie Hinckley, the author of the book Small and Simple Things. In it she says, "The trick is to enjoy life. Don't wish away your days waiting for better ones ahead."

It seems like an easy principle to live by, but in reality many of us live our days fighting the Worry Monster -- that constant internal voice that tells us we aren't doing enough, succeeding enough, gaining enough, earning enough. For our kids, this trickles down into fears like "I won't be able to pass my spelling test," "I won't do well in soccer practice" or "I'm not smart enough or cool enough for my friends. "

So how do we instill tools within our children to help them combat these universal and common anxious feelings? How can our children learn to live in the present rather than worry about the future that has yet to come? Encourage these six simple, practical and healthy habits for daily living:

Make a worry list.
Have your child make a list of all his or her worries and fears, both small and large. Just the act of recognizing and writing down worries can sometimes make the scary emotions seem less intimidating for your child. This allows you to identify which worries and fears you want to work on with your child, tackling one by one together.

Practice thinking strategies.
Help your children convert their worries into reassurances by teaching them new thinking strategies. For example, if their consistent worry is "I am afraid my mom won't pick me up from school," have them replace it with "I know my mom is coming for me because she ALWAYS does." Together, you can say each worry and fear and come up with new sentences to combat the old. Practice these with your kids until they become habitual replacements for the old, incessant worries. This is a key skill for building resilience.

Don't skimp on sleep.
Make sure your child gets enough sleep on a regular basis. Well-rested equals well-equipped mentally and physically to deal with minor daily stresses. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that 3- to 5-year-olds get 11-13 hours a night, 5- to 12-year-olds get 10-11 hours per night, and teens get 9.25 hours per night (although some do fine with 8.5 hours).

Make good nutrition a priority.
Make sure your child gets a steady dose of protein throughout the day. Many kids experience low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar usually occurs a few hours after breakfast and it looks and feels a lot like anxiety: they feel dizzy, start sweating, feel weak, and their heart beats really fast. Staying away from caffeine and energy drinks is also recommended as they mimic the effects of adrenaline and cause people to feel anxious.

Get some exercise.
Exercise burns adrenaline. If it's not already a part of your child's daily routine, add daily exercise to your child's plan, and let him know that not only is it good for his body, but it will help keep the Worry Monster away. Exercise can include any activities that your child enjoys such as swimming, shooting baskets, hiking, soccer, dodge ball, tennis, martial arts, jumping rope, rock climbing, bicycling, dancing, gymnastics or yoga. Anything that increases your child's heart rate will help fight the Worry Monster.

Don't underestimate distraction.
Arm your children with a little healthy distraction. Let them pick a favorite activity such as ten minutes on the computer playing a brain game, time out for reading a favorite book, watching a half hour television show or bike riding around the block -- and allow them to do that activity whenever a worry attack comes on. This allows them to combat worry with pleasure and takes their mind off the often paralyzing thoughts and feelings brought on by the Worry Monster. Before you and they know it, they have been distracted from their worries.

All of us experience worry and anxiety, but Worry Warriors know that the trick is to understand how the Worry Monster works, be prepared for his sneaky ways, tackle him head-on and not leave him lurking silently in the closet. We can arm our children to battle their anxious thoughts and engage in life -- and we can do the same. By maintaining these six healthy habits, your family can put their worries aside and experience life to the fullest.

Courtesy of the Huffington Post & Daniel B. Peters, Ph.D.
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4 days ago  ·  

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GYRO’S DAILY WELLNESS TIP

What Do I Do If My Teen Is Thinking About Suicide?

They say that the worst pain in life is losing a child. When parents hear that their child is thinking about suicide, or has even tried to commit suicide, they often become paralyzed by the fear that they will say or do something that will lead their child to take their own life.

Many parents coming into our suicide prevention programs say "I feel like I am walking on eggshells and don't know what to do." Yet, parents are rarely involved in treatment to any great extent. In fact, we have heard from many parents that they have been discouraged from participating in their child's mental health treatment!

Our reply is simple: if a teen is living at home, effective teen suicide prevention must involve parents or guardians. So, how can parents and guardians help? We offer eight tips based on years of clinical work and research with families with teens who have thought about or actually tried to commit suicide.

~ Learn the warning signs for teen suicide
Don't mistake them for typical teenage behavior.

~ Take ALL suicidal statements seriously. Some parents think their teens threaten suicide to manipulate them or a situation, so it is okay to ignore these statements. The fact is that parents can never be 100% certain that this is the case and the cost of being wrong is too great to risk. Teens may act on suicide threats to prove their parents wrong or gain attention and end up accidentally taking their lives. Teenagers do not accurately estimate the lethality of methods of self-harm. If a teen threatens suicide, regardless of intent, there is something wrong and professional help is needed.

~ Talk to your teen about suicide. Many parents are afraid that if they talk about it, it will lead to their child to think about suicide. This is a myth! Research suggests just the opposite -- for many teens it actually decreases suicidal thinking and is a relief to share such a painful "secret" with their parents.

~ If your teen shares suicidal thoughts, do your best to respond calmly and rationally. Many teens do not share suicidal thoughts with parents because they fear that their parents will "lose it" emotionally or not be able to respond in a way that is helpful. Some also share that they do not want to be a burden to their parents. Let your teen know that you can handle it and can help.

"Many parents are afraid that if they talk about it, it will lead to their child to think about suicide. This is a myth!" --Christy Esposito-Smythers

~ Become knowledgeable about good, helpful mental health treatments for teenagers. There are many treatment approaches for teenagers with mental health difficulties, but not all of them work.

~ If your teen does have suicidal thoughts, it is incredibly important to remove or lock up any objects that can be used to hurt him/herself. For example, if your child is prescribed medication, keep it locked up, dispense it to your child, and make sure that it has been swallowed. Some teens try to stockpile large amounts of medication and you want to avoid that! Other lethal means (including bottles of Tylenol, razors, guns, etc.) should also be removed from the home or locked up while teens are in a high-risk period. Suicidal acts can be impulsive. However, if it is hard to actually find something to use to hurt oneself, the suicidal impulse may pass without any self-harm.

~ Seek your own mental health treatment if needed. Everyone goes through difficult times. Parenting itself can be highly stressful even under the best of circumstances. We tell parents to think of themselves as the captains of a ship, if they go down, so does the ship. To most effectively help your child, you must take care of yourself!

~ Finally, be aware of social media and what your teen is doing online! Bullying often happens online now and if your child is a victim, this can contribute to suicidal thoughts. Often teens share comments about suicide on Facebook or other online outlets.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teenagers and young adults. Effective suicide prevention strategies are sorely needed.

Parents are a critical part of the solution. Our clinical research team has one of the few successful programs shown to reduce suicide attempts in teenagers, and we feel that it is largely due to the parent education and training that is part of the program. If your teen struggles with suicidal thoughts, know that you are part of the solution and work with the mental health provider to learn how to best help your child!

Courtesy of Christy Esposito-Smythers, Associate Professor fo Psychology, George Mason University & the Huffington Post
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5 days ago  ·  

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Here’s a personal story about how a teenager manages the multiple pressures of adolescence as well as anxiety.

Gyro Psychology Services

GYRO’S DAILY WELLNESS TIP

Navigating High School as an Anxious Teen

Being a teenager is hard. Anyone who is one or has been one can confirm this. The teenage years are full of social and physical changes, big decisions and stress. This year, I learned that it's even harder to juggle the responsibilities of being a teenager when also struggling with mental illness.

According to research, the number of teens who suffer from an anxiety disorder is rising. I am among this growing group of teens with anxiety. I was diagnosed last year, and I spent most of my grade 10 year of high school learning how to cope with my anxiety while also trying to maintain a normal, balanced teenage social life, something I quickly learned is not easy to do. Navigating the ups and downs of high school is overwhelming as it is, and having to deal with a mental disorder on top of it sometimes made it seem impossible to succeed. My simultaneous battle with mental illness and with high school, although exhausting, has caused me to learn and grow a lot.

When I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder at 15, as a grade 10 student, I was already feeling the pressure to succeed. According to society, my peers, and many of the adults in my life, in order to be a well-rounded teenager I needed good grades, cool clothes and lots of friends.

There were already expectations set out for me as a teenage girl, and the pressure was multiplied thanks to my anxious brain, which convinced me that I was not good enough and would never be good enough to succeed at these things. Navigating high school with an anxiety disorder is exhausting, confusing and terrifying at times. Although I've struggled with anxiety for most of my life, it increased by a lot in the past few years.

My family and friends began to notice something was going on with me when I stopped wanting to be around people. I went from being an extroverted, outspoken social butterfly to just wanting to be alone and watch Netflix. I've always excelled academically, but when my anxiety was really bad, my marks started to plummet. My teachers thought I wasn't trying hard enough, and they had no idea how much of a struggle it was for me to do my homework every night and concentrate in class. I was distracted all the time because I was constantly worrying. My anxiety told me that I was a failure, and I would never get the grades I wanted. It told me that I was annoying and that none of my friends wanted to hang out with me. I started to believe that part of my brain, and I stopped trying to be social, smart and well-rounded. Instead, I scraped by in my classes and many of my friendships dwindled.

Mental illness is vastly misunderstood in today's culture. I encounter people all the time who don't know anything about my disorder or how it affects my life. Too many times, I've heard "get over it" or "that's weird" or "you're crazy" when it comes to the topic of my anxiety. When I've approached teachers or coaches for help, they often don't know how to react. In a place as complicated as high school, when I didn't know how to get the help I needed, it was easy to feel alone.

Fortunately, I was surrounded by amazing people in my life who did want to help me. My parents, friends, counselors and community encouraged me and supported me through some pretty hard times. I learned through them that my anxiety could not define me. I learned how to be more confident and open about my struggles. Being a teenager is tough, especially when you have to juggle it along with an anxiety disorder. It's still really hard for me, and I run into new obstacles that I have to face every single day. But I continue to grow and learn and I'm conquering new fears all the time.

For those who are struggling with something similar, know that you're not alone. There are teens all around you who are going through the same thing. Surround yourself with people who love you and want to help you. The biggest piece of advice I can give you, as a teen that's been through it and is still going through it, is to be open. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and talk about how you're feeling often. Sometimes just being able to be open can make a huge difference.

There is a huge stigma attached to mental illness in our society, and by talking about what you're going through you can also help raise others' awareness. You can educate people and help them to understand that mental illness is something that affects people both mentally and physically, and that it is actually an increasingly common issue among teenagers. I have been overlooked, belittled and misunderstood because of my mental illness and the lack of awareness surrounding this issue. I was made to feel ashamed of the fact that I needed help because I was sick.

We can make a difference as people who have been through it, or have loved others who have been through it, by removing the stigma. Speak up, and help raise awareness. This is my challenge to you.

Courtesy of Samantha Goodyear (High School Student) and the Huffington Post
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6 days ago  ·  

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