Partners in your child’s wellness

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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Summer Reading for Kids & Teens

Summer Reading for Kids & Teens

May 25th, 2014

Well, we can hardly believe that there are just three short weeks until school ends and summer begin[...]

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Using Reward Charts to Shape Behavior

Whereas time-outs and groundings motivate children's compliance with rules by offering them aversive consequences for misbehavior, sticker charts and like-minded discipline techniques are examples of positive disciple which reward children for compliance with the rules.

In the case of sticker charts, the idea is that children are rewarded with stickers when they follow the rules. When they don't follow the rules, they get no stickers.

Sticker charts are an instance of what is known as a "token economy". Token economies are effective and useful ways to mange the behavior of younger and older children alike, Even adults will respond if such economies have been set up properly. The use of stickers as the tokens to be won for good behavior is most appealing to younger children.

Older children will come to view stickers as "babyish" at some point. So, it is necessary that when using a token economy with older children stickers are swapped out for some new form of token that older kids do find compelling and valuable.

Often, for older children the sticker chart is reformulated as a behavioral checklist, with children earning check-marks for good behavior in place of stickers. The basic concept remains the same, however. Children must complete certain chores, personal hygiene tasks, and homework assignments every day or week, and are rewarded for doing so. At the end of a recording period of arbitrary duration (perhaps each month), the check-marks are summed up and traded in for small prizes, privileges (e.g., a trip to the library, etc.) or even a small allowance.

Because children learn to earn their privileges through the use of this technique, it is not bribery when they earn their rewards, but rather a useful life lesson that children can take and benefit from when they later become adults who work for a living.

Setting up a reward chart
Choose the behavior you want to change or encourage.
Use clear and positive descriptions of the behavior, and talk with your child about the behavior you want to see. For example, ‘Pick up all the toys from your bedroom floor’ is clearer and will be easier for your child to understand than ‘Tidy your bedroom’. And ‘Knock before going into other people’s rooms’ is more positive than ‘Don’t invade other people’s privacy.’

Create a chart
You can choose from lots of different styles of charts, or make one yourself. Older children might like to create their own chart, perhaps with a drawing or photo of the reward they’re trying to earn. Put the chart where your child can see it. Keep in mind that your older child might prefer a spot that’s private – for example, his bedroom, instead of on the fridge. Decide which stickers or tokens to use – star stickers work well for younger children, whereas older kids might like points or other markers.

Choose short-term rewards
Most children start by liking the idea of collecting stickers or tokens, but the novelty can wear off quite quickly. When this happens, swapping the stickers or tokens for some short-term rewards can help them keep their eyes on the main prize. You could let your child choose from a range of objects, events and activities – a family bike ride, special time with mum or dad, staying up late, a hired DVD, or buying a new book or small toy.

Give your child the stickers immediately after the behavior happens.
Some specific praise reminds your child why she’s getting the sticker or token. For example, ‘I really like the way you and Mia have been playing and sharing toys this morning. Here’s a star for your chart’.

Try to stay positive.
If your child doesn’t earn a star, just move on. Also try to avoid punishing your child by saying, ‘I’ll take a star away’, or ‘You won’t get any stars if you keep that up!’ Focus on encouraging your child to try again.

Move on from the reward chart.
You can gradually stop using the reward chart once your child’s behavior has changed. For example, you might gradually phase out the reward chart after a few weeks by increasing the length of time between stickers or points. If your child’s getting a sticker each day for unloading the dishwasher, this could be increased to one sticker every two days. But if you suddenly stop using a reward chart, your child is likely to go back to the old behavior.

Optional step:
If your child has a particularly challenging behavior, you might like to measure the behavior before you start and while you’re using the reward chart. For example, count how many times, or how often, your child hits. Record this when you start using the chart, then keep track of it as the days pass. This will help you tell if the reward chart is working.

Courtesy of Angela Oswalt, MSW
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16 hours ago

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Stuck, Stubborn and Always Right? Changing Patterns of Rigid Thinking

Recognizing Rigid Thinking

Children with rigid thinking struggle to consider alternatives to the current situation, optional viewpoints, or new and different problem solving strategies. They respond to their own immediate needs with minimal ability to shift between ideas and actions.

Rigid thinkers have less developed executive functioning processes. Because this aspect of their brain has not matured, they lack the cognitive skill to appraise a situation, understand options, judge severity, or understand the effect of their behavior on others. Limited in inhibiting impulses, they may not think before acting.

Poor impulse control lowers frustration tolerance leading to meltdowns when expectations suddenly change. Coinciding with less developed executive functioning is emotional dysregulation which causes negative and overwhelming emotions to come out of seemingly nowhere. This dysregulation makes it difficult for a child to immediately capture the appropriate thinking tools to calm down.

Recognizing Thinking Styles Improves Positive Outcomes

Black-and-White Thinking
Black-and-white thinking occurs when children perceive the world in polar opposites. Situations are either one way or another; without perception of alternative gray areas.

Parent Approach:
~When stuck in this thinking pattern, logic and reason doesn’t work; it actually exacerbates frustration and anger. Wait to speak with the child later.

~When the child is calmer, broach the topic and suggest possible solutions. Write down all possible good and bad ideas, then list pros and cons. This visual display of other viewpoints makes it easier to consider alternative perspectives.

~Practice appraising the situation. Coach them to ask, “Where am I?” “Who is with me?” “What is expected of me?” “What is different that could change my expectations? Offer situations in which a regular routine may have to be altered.

Rule-Oriented Thinking
Some children miss the concept, ‘exceptions to the rule.’ They believe all rules should be followed at all times. This is problematic when the rigid thinker sees others break rules. Rule-oriented thinkers frequently tattle which damages relationships with peers.

Parent Approach:
~Encourage child to request guidance when questions arise about rules or how someone has acted in relation to the rules.

~When you see this child getting frustrated, step in and intervene.
Emphasize that life is constantly changing and circumstances are more important than “rigid rules.”

~When rules must be changed, give clear, concise information and allow the child time to adjust so there isn’t a rapid shift.

Nothing-But-The-Truth Thinking
The truthful thinker has trouble understanding other people’s feelings and doesn’t understand the misstep in being bluntly honest.

Parent Approach:
~Teach that, “saying I’m sorry,” doesn’t mean their honesty is wrong, but is necessary when someone expresses hurt feelings.

~Encourage the child to keep opinions about others to themselves.

~Develop this through role-playing or a social story.

Perseverative Thinking
This child will repeatedly ask questions about one topic. Perseverative thinking is not obsessional thinking since these thoughts are disturbing and unwanted. Perseverative thoughts are pleasing, often about the child’s interests.

Parent Approach:
~Interrupt the pattern of thinking. Create any distraction like, “ Let’s walk the dog” or “Wow, look at this interesting thing!”

~Assigning active complex thinking tasks (looking, listening and action) like Wii games can be a helpful distraction.

Perfectionist Thinking
When some children strive for perfection and it’s not achieved, they become extremely frustrated. For example, a child cannot complete an assignment because he is too busy erasing his imperfect letters. The accuracy of the task becomes more important than the goal of the activity.

Parental Approach:
~Before beginning the task, remind the child it’s ok to make a mistake.

~If the task already started, disturb the rigid thinking by suggesting a break or creating a distraction.

Catastrophic Thinking
Catastrophic thinking occurs when a minor situation seems incredibly terrible to a child and they believe the bad situation will go on forever.

Parental Approach:
~Encourage expression of feelings and offer empathy.

~Give the child time and space to recover.

~After the child feels more secure, they will be more amenable to logic and reasoning.

Parents, remember that rigid thinking, regardless of your child’s ASD, ADHD or anxiety symptoms is different from being stubborn; don’t blame children for choosing to be difficult. While it takes time, kids can gradually learn to make transitions and understand change as a comfortable part of life.

Learn to practice empathetic and calm approaches to your child’s emotions. Become proactive by providing structure and planning ahead. Choose battles and redirect your child without antagonist demands. Don’t reward bad behavior. While your child may be stuck, stubborn, and always right, it is patience, consistency and these strategies which strengthen fluid processing and self-mastery of emotions.

Courtesy of Kimberly Williams, Psy.D.
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2 days ago

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Encouraging Children to do Chores

Busy households need all the help they can get. Cooking meals, cleaning, doing laundry, mowing grass, hauling out the garbage and caring for pets are just a few of the many tasks involved in maintaining a home. Parents who encourage their children to help around the house are preparing them for life as independent adults.

They're also teaching them the value of pitching in and contributing to the well-being of the group. Children's self-esteem blossoms when they know they can provide real service to other people, starting with their families.

Here are a few tips:

~Start when they're young.
Allow toddlers to stand on a chair next to you and stir the batter when you bake, and give them a turn with the paint brush or roller when you paint a wall. Small children don't differentiate between work and play. They are just as happy helping you fold the laundry as playing a game. In fact, young children often view work as a game. offers several ideas for making work fun, such as playing "Go Fish" with a basket of clean socks. Start by giving each player a certain amount of socks and leaving some in the pile to draw from. During each player's turn, the player holds up a sock and asks another player if he has the mate. If he doesn't, the first player has to draw a sock. At the end of the game, the player with the most pairs wins.

~Make a helper chart. suggests creating one chart for every child in the family. On the side of the chart, write a list of tasks the child can do, depending on his age. At the top of the chart, list the days of the week. Allow your child to place a sticker on the chart whenever he completes a task. Scholastic recommends bestowing a "Helper of the Week" award to the child with the most stickers on the chart at the end of the week.

~Teach children organizational skills.
Give each child a bucket with her name written on it with a marker, Scholastic recommends, and fill it with cleaning supplies, such as sponges, dust rags and paper towels. Live by the "a place for everything, and everything in its place" rule, and teach it to your children. Store toys in containers, hang coats on a rack or in a closet, keep pens and pencils in a cup or decorated tin can, and store items as close as possible to where they will be used. Virginia Tech suggests putting pictures on containers to show what goes in them so even small children will know how to put things away.

~Increase responsibility as children get older to keep them engaged.
Elementary school children love showing off what they can do. Let them vacuum the carpet, help prepare meals, wash dishes and feed and water the pets. Tweens can mow the lawn and take more responsibility in the kitchen by planning meals to prepare for the family and cooking them independently.

Doing household chores is especially important for teens, according to the National Mental Health and Education Center, because they learn real-life skills. As they complete their chores, express your appreciation, so your teens develop self-esteem and confidence.

Courtesy of Janet Mulroney
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4 days ago

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Easy Answers to the Top 5 Science Questions Kids Ask

Why is the moon sometimes out during the day? Why is the sky blue? Will we ever discover aliens? How much does the Earth weigh? How do airplanes stay up?

Those are the five questions kids most often ask their parents, and in that order, according to a new survey conducted in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, they're tough nuts to crack probably why kids find them so universally puzzling in the first place.

Of the 2,000 parents of children ages 5 to 16 who were surveyed about their kid's queries, two-thirds said they struggled with the questions. One-fifth of the parents admitted that if they don't know an answer, they sometimes make up an explanation or pretend that no one knows.

Here are the easy-to-understand answers to their most burning questions:

How do airplanes stay up?
To overcome the forces of drag and gravity, an airplane must generate two forces of its own: thrust and lift.

Thrust is the force that propels an airplane forward on the runway. By Newton's third law every action has an equal and opposite reaction the plane's engine generates forward thrust. Next, as the plane hurtles down the runway, each of its wings slices the air into two streams, one that flows above it and the other, below. The wings are shaped in such a way that the air flowing over them is ultimately deflected downward, and, again because of Newt Gingrichon's third law, the downward motion of the air causes an equal and opposite upward motion of the plane. This is lift.

Every airplane has a specific takeoff speed the point at which lift overcomes gravity. That critical speed changes based on how much a particular plane weighs. The plane's engine, meanwhile, has to work to provide enough thrust to overcome drag friction with the air.

How much does the Earth weigh?
The first approach to answering this question is to get technical about it. Because the Earth is in free fall around the sun, it actually weighs nothing. The same goes for astronauts in orbit; because they are technically falling around the Earth and if they stood on a scale, it, too, would be falling the scale would read zero.

Alternatively, you could discuss the Earth's mass a property that is independent of where an object is in the universe, or what it is doing. Earth has a mass of 5.97 × 10^24 kilograms the equivalent of one hundred million billion Titanics.

Will we ever discover aliens?
No one knows how rare alien life is in the universe, so there's no telling whether humanity will ever manage to discover it. However, scientists at the SETI Institute in California, who are engaged in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, are hopeful that they'll detect alien signals within the next 20 years. The scientists scan the night sky looking for unnatural radio or light beams ones that could only emanate from an intelligent civilization.

Their 20-year estimate is based on the rapid pace with which astronomers are discovering planets beyond our solar system, including planets that seem suitable for life; it is also based on the assumption that, if there are intelligent beings out there, they, too, will seek contact with others, and will make their presence known by sending signals into space.

Why is the sky blue?
The light coming from the sun is made of many colors; light travels as a wave, and each color has a unique wavelength. Violet and blue light has shorter wavelengths, while red light has a longer wavelength, and the other colors have wavelengths in between.
When the different colors of light pass through the atmosphere, they run into molecules, water droplets and bits of dust. Because all these particles are closer in size to shorter wavelengths of light, they tend to scatter violet and blue light much more than red, and so they send rays of violet and blue ricocheting toward the ground and your eyes. More violet light actually gets scattered by atmospheric particles than blue light, but your eyes are more sensitive to blue, so the sky appears blue.

Sunsets are orange-red because in the evening, with the sun low on the horizon, sunlight must pass through more atmosphere to get to your eyes, and only the red light can make it all the way through. The shorter wavelengths have all been scattered toward the ground in the part of Earth where it is still daytime.

Why is the moon sometimes out during the day?
This question burns brightest of all in the minds of kids, according to the UK survey. The answer is simple: The moon is just as likely to be visible during the day as it is at night it orbits Earth independently of the sun. When its orbit brings it to your part of the sky during daylight hours, it is illuminated by the sun, and we can see it.

Courtesy of Natalie Wolchover & LiveScience
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6 days ago

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How to Improve Children's Math Skills Over the Summer

Over a long summer break, children can forget many of the things that they learned in school. Keep your child on top of school by working with him or her through summer break. Have fun with your children by sneaking math in in unexpected circumstances, and they will not even know they are learning.

~Let your child play math games on the computer. Find math websites or buy CD-ROMs with math games. (See Resources below.)

~Review math basics with flash cards. Challenge your child with a few more difficult flash cards each day.

~Go shopping. Give your child a calculator and have her add up your purchases. Help her figure out sales tax.

~Play math games. Look at teacher supply stores for board games and other math game ideas.

~Have your child do math on worksheets. Give a small reward for each worksheet completed.

~Let your child empty all of the money from your wallet and count it. Have your child count and roll coins.

~Take family surveys to find out favorite foods, colors, sport, candy and other items. Have your child make a graph of the results.
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7 days ago

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