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Archive for the Conflict Resolution Category

Published on: September 11, 2016  

Developing Resilience

Childhood can appear to be a carefree time of exploration, discovery, and growth. We want our kids to experience the wonder of life and joy of relationships and learning while shielding them from tension and stress. This battle can be daunting for parents as there is a lot going on in the lives of children including developmental changes, social tensions, disturbing images and messages from various media venues, academic demands and expectations.

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Most parents I talk to are keenly aware of the pressures of raising a family in this day and age. We have our own expectations for them and strive to teach them the skills to manage difficult and even stressful situations.
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I find myself wanting to solve problems for my children so badly sometimes as I hear about social drama, what was said, or or not and the disappointments that come when they hope something will happen and it doesn’t turn out the way they had hoped. I know that they need to develop the skills to manage these situations, remain calm, consider alternative choices, talk to trusted adults about what they’re thinking, make a decision on how to move forward thoughtfully. I know they will need to develop strong problem solving skills to face the challenges that they may face in the years to come.

Here are a few ideas to get them headed in the right direction:

Pay attention and notice. Let your child know when you notice something’s bothering him or her. If you can, try to name the feeling you think your child might be experiencing. (“Your quieter this morning than usual. Are you still disappointed in Sam for not playing with you at recess yesterday?”) This casual observation communicates that you are paying attention to their behavior, are “in tune” with how they might feel, and are available to talk more about what’s happening, how what’s happening impacts them, and strategies on how to decrease tension and resolve conflicts.

Be a good listener. Ask your child to communicate what’s wrong. Pay attention to their body language, be attentive, calm and reassuring. Realize that talking about feelings and events might be difficult for some young children. Drawing out what is causing discomfort or writing it down in a problem solving journal of sorts may be used if your child has difficulty verbalized what they are experiencing..

Be sure to avoid the urge to react to what’s happening, blame, lecture, or say what you think your child should have done instead. The idea is to let your child practice communicating what’s on their mind, look at all the factors that might contribute to why they feel the way they do, and communicate that effectively in a medium that is most comfortable for them. Do your level best to be patient through this process as your child’s works to communicate their feelings and concerns. And allow your child plenty of time to collect their thoughts as well. Personally, I like to have my kids talk about what’s happening, generate solutions and stresses that day. They seem to feel better when they know there is a plan in place. They feel even better if they were the ones who came up with a great solution on their own. We celebrate those moments!

Introduce feelings into conversations. For example, you might say “That must have been frustrating,” “No wonder you felt disappointed when they wouldn’t let you in the game,” or “That must have seemed unfair to you.”

Making the connection between events and how their emotional reaction helps show them that you understand what your child feels and that identifying and talking about feelings is just part of the way we talk with one another. Feeling understood and that communicating that you are emotionally available and open to understanding their experience helps your child feel that they have a supportive adult who is their to listen, understand and help them through to process of conflict resolution.

Many younger kids do not yet have words for their feelings. If your child seems angry or frustrated, use those words to help him or her learn to identify the emotions by name. If that is still a challenge you can use things that the child is familiar with to help them understand. For example, you can describe feeling frustrated or angry by comparing those feelings to a balloon filling with air; we don’t want it to get too full for fear it will burst. Where is the fun in that? Giving feeling a color or shape are also helpful first steps for younger children who are developing their feelings vocabulary. Helping your child give feelings a form or a label is the first step in them increasing their awareness of feelings. Otherwise, feelings remain abstract and confusing which can lead to children simply reacting to how they feel behaviorally instead of noticing what they feel and understanding why they might feel that way.

Help your child think through choices and solutions. Once the stressful event has been identified, feelings expressed and everyone has reached a point of calm it is time to talk about strategies and solutions. “I wonder what would make things better?”. Your child’s active participation will build confidence. Once ideas have been shared, ask, “How do you want to put this into action” “Who else should we talk to about this,” and “What can we do to support you?”

Listen and move on. Sometimes talking and listening and feeling understood is all that’s needed to help a child’s frustrations begin to melt away. Afterward, try changing the subject or moving on to something more positive and relaxing. Help your child think of something they can to do to feel more relaxed and calm. Dwelling on unresolved conflicts is not typically a constructive strategy to decrease stress, anxiety or feelings of sadness or despair.

Limit stress where possible. Brainstorm ways to change things if situations at home, at school or in the community are causing stress. For example, if too many after-school activities leave us with little time to complete homework assignments, then you might consider trimming back some of those activities so that homework completion is more manageable and rewarding.
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Be present. You can help your child feel better just by being emotionally available to them. If you notice that your child is behaving differently than they usually communicate that you notice a change in their behavior. One way to help them is to get them thinking about something else. Another is, invite them to participate in an activity you can do together.

Be patient. It’s hard to see your child unhappy or distressed. The initial instinct is to help them feel more comfortable by trying to solve whatever conflict is creating negative emotions. Try looking at their situation as a wonderful learning opportunity. Focus on helping your child develop good emotional awareness,emotional control, good problem solving skills and resilience. In time they will know how to roll with life’s ups and downs, put feelings into words, calm down when needed, consider choices and weigh their options and be poised to learn from mistakes and get back in the game and try again.

With Warmest Regards,

Dr. Dave Callies
Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services, Inc.
360-236-0206 (o)
360-236-9909 (f)
866-616-GYRO (4976)
#GyroPsychology

“Promoting Balance and Stability in Kids & Teens”

Published on: September 5, 2016  

Navigating Cliques

There’s little you can do to shield kids from the drama that occurs in classrooms and the forming of cliques, but there is plenty you can do to help your child remain confident in the face of drama while negotiating the slippery slope cliques. The silver lining is the opportunity to help your child understand what true friendship is all about.

Cliques

What’s a Clique?
Developing and maintaining friendships is an important part of your child’s development. Having friends helps them to think independently, to make choices on their own and express their opinions and beliefs outside of the family system(s). Interactions with friends allows them the opportunity to experience trust and respect in relationships while realizing what types of peers are a good fit for them.

Groups of friends are different from cliques in some important ways. Friendships are formed from shared interests, sports, activities, classes, neighborhoods, or even family connections. Members of the group are free to socialize and hang out with others outside the group without worrying about being rejected. They may not do everything together but there is comfort knowing that they reconnect with their friends at any time.

Cliques have a different feel. They often form around common interests, but the social dynamics are quite different. Cliques are typically tightly controlled by leaders who decide who is “in” and who is “out.” The kids in the clique do most things together. Someone who has a friend outside the clique may face some pressure from the insiders.

Members of the clique usually follow the leader’s rules, whether it’s wearing particular clothes or doing certain activities. Cliques usually involve lots of rules — implied or clearly stated — and intense pressure to follow them. Kids in cliques often worry about whether they’ll continue to be popular or whether they’ll be dropped for doing or saying the wrong thing or for not dressing in a certain way. Cliques are often at their most intense in middle school and junior high, but problems with cliques can start as early as 4th and 5th grades.

When Cliques Cause Problems
For most kids, the pre-teen and teen years are a time to figure out how they want to fit in and how they want to stand out. It’s natural for kids to occasionally feel insecure; long to be accepted; and hang out with the kids who seem more attractive, cool, or popular.

How Parents Can Help
As kids navigate friendships and cliques, there’s plenty parents can do to offer support. If your child seems upset, or suddenly spends time alone when usually very social, ask about it.

Here are some tips:

Shed some light on social dynamics. Acknowledge that people are often judged by the way a person looks, acts, or dresses. Casting judgements is one thing but acting on those judgements is another. Some people actually act mean so that they can establish and maintain some form of control, elevate their social status and feel better about themselves and their social position. The sad part is that they strive to achieve what they want at the expense of others. The happy part is that the expression of these attitudes provides a valuable backdrop to talk with you children about their own beliefs about what friendship means, discerning the types of people they want in their lives and the qualities inherent in true friendships.

Find stories they can relate to. Many books, TV shows, and movies send strong messages about the importance of being true to your own nature and the value of being a good friend, even in the face of difficult social situations.

Create healthy outlets. Get kids involved in community-based activities like sports, theater (Tacoma Musical Theater), art classes, music, dance and language studies. These types of activities will provide your child with opportunities to establish friendships in other settings all while creating opportunities to learn and master new skills.

Develop skills to manage challenging relationships. If your child is part of a clique and one of the kids is teasing or rejecting others, it’s important to help your child develop skills to manage these relationships. The first step is to encourage them to talk with you about what’s happening and to let other adults, like teachers, coaches, counsellors become aware of what is happening. Ideally, it’s best to have the child be assertive in this situation by talking with supportive and trusted adults on their own. As parents we can help them identify the problem, what they want to see happen and why and explore strategies on how to create healthier relationships and improve their self-confidence..

Discuss consequences. If your child is the one at the center of a clique, discuss the role of power and control in friendships and try to get to the heart of why your child feels compelled to be in that position. You can take the next step by challenging them to think about what they want in relationships, the consequences of their behavior, and strategies on how to change they way they perceive relationships with others.

Encourage Healthy Friendships
Here are some ways to encourage kids to have healthy friendships and not get too caught up in cliques:

Find the right fit — don’t just fit in. Encourage kids to think about what they value and are interested in, and how those things fit in with the group. Ask questions like: What is the main reason you want to be part of the group? What compromises will you have to make? Is it worth it?

Keep social circles open and diverse. Encourage kids to be friends with people they like and enjoy from different settings, backgrounds, ages, and interests. Model this yourself as much as you can with different ages and types of friends and acquaintances.

Bolster assertiveness skills. If they’re feeling worried or pressured by what’s happening in the cliques, encourage your kids to be assertive and stand up for themselves and others who are being cast out or bullied. Encourage them to participate in activities that feels right to them, build their skills and foster cooperative healthy interactions that bring people together instead of hurtful behaviors that tear at the fabric of relationships.

Teach responsibility. Encourage sensitivity to others and not just going along with a group. Remind kids that a true friend respects their opinions, interests, and choices, no matter how different they are. Acknowledge that it can be difficult to stand out, but that ultimately kids are responsible for what they say and do.

Keep the big picture in mind. As hard as cliques might be to deal with now, things can change quickly. What’s more important is making true friends — people they can confide in, laugh with, and trust. And the real secret to being “popular” — in the truest sense of the word — is for them to be the kind of friend they’d like to have: respectful, fair, supportive, caring, trustworthy, and kind.

With Warmest Regards,

Dr. Dave Callies
Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services, Inc.
360-236-0206 (o)
360-236-9909 (f)
866-616-GYRO (4976)
#GyroPsychology

“Promoting Balance and Stability in Kids & Teens”

Published on: August 9, 2015  

Fostering Tolerance in Children

While living on Maui and Oahu for 9 years, I realized just how diverse the “American culture” is. The rich cultural tradition of the Pacific Islanders, Hawaiians, Japanese, and Europeans melded together to form a rich and varied culture. Culture was expressed and lived in so many different ways including types of foods, languages, pastimes, ceremonies, beliefs, and values.

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Many have endured hardships as they adjusted to life in America. Many pushed through those hardships and found success in many different ventures. Achieving one’s full potential in the face of challenges provides hope that life will be better and that dreams can be realized with effort and dedication without the fear or persecution and tolerance of differences along the way.

Our kids have the opportunity to step out into a world and meet people who come from varied backgrounds and cultures; creating unique opportunities to learn, grow, and expand. This growth is possible if we as parents are open-minded and look at diversity as an opportunity and be tolerate of the differences of others even if they appear unusual or different at first blush. New ideas and opportunities can spawn with an open mind and reverence for the differences of others.

It’s true that some parents welcome and even embrace diversity as they look to expose their children to new cultures and traditions while others are more cautious. I believe it’s important for parents to help their children remain flexible when meeting others from diverse backgrounds and look at integration as an opportunity to learn and understand. Remaining open and flexible will serve them well as it may lead to new and exciting opportunities and relationships. Being tolerant is a necessary as the world and our communities diversify and broaden.

Being tolerant refers to a frame of mind or attitude of openness and respect for the differences of others including gender, sexual orientation, people with physical and intellectual differences, ethnicity among others. The benefit of being tolerant is that we have an opportunity to learn from others and broaden our worldview providing that there is mutual respect and a willingness to learn, listen, and understand.

Tolerance is not blind. I have no tolerance for people who knowingly disrespect or hurt others or engage in behaviors that break social rules and societal laws. Tolerance is more about accepting people for who they are not about accepting or supporting inappropriate behaviors.

How do I teach my children to be more tolerant?
Be aware of your own attitudes. Like all attitudes, tolerance is often modeled by parents, caregivers and close friends. Parents and others who model or demonstrate tolerance in their everyday lives teach their children and others close to them how to be respectful, listen, and understand personal differences, even when what we see and hear is unfamiliar.

Apart from modeling respect and understanding, parents can talk with their children about personal differences and how to be respectful of others. Talking will set the stage for practice. Creating opportunities for your child/teen to play and work with others is the natural next step. This provides them with the opportunity to learn first hand that everyone has something valuable to contribute, to experience and celebrate different values and customs, and to realize similarities.

Remember, your kids are likely watching and listening. Kids and teens are keen observers and will often imitate attitudes, values and beliefs of those who are closest to them. As a result, their kids will invariably learn to to respect and appreciate differences as well.

Please remember that tolerance does not mean tolerating unacceptable behavior. It means treating others respectfully and being respectful of others in return.

Celebrate your child’s unique and special qualities. Be sure to help your child feel proud of themselves and the qualities that make them unique and special. Children who have a strong self-esteem and respect their bodies, ideas, beliefs and culture are more likely to treat others with respect as well. So, please take time to support your child to feel accepted, respected, loved and valued. You’ll be glad you did.

If you suspect that you child or teen is depressed or anxious as a result of adjusting to a new community or is in a situation where he or she is being judged, bullied, or is still working on developing their own self-worth, please give us a call, 360-236-0206. We’re here to help.

With Warmest Regards,

David Callies, Psy.D.
Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services, Inc.
5191 Corporate Center Court SE
Lacey, Washington 98503
360.236.0206 (p)
360.236.9909 (f)
1.866.GYRO (4976) (t)

Published on: July 12, 2015  

Managing Peer Pressure

As our kids become more independent, their friends and peers will begin to play a more formidable role in their lives. Hopefully we, as parents, teachers, and caregivers, have provided our children with the values, morals and rules that will help guide them in their decision making as they manage diverse social situations, a wider breath of possibilities, and peer pressures.

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With independence comes exposure to a wider group of peers who do not necessarily fit into the friend category but can be influential by the way they dress, their language, attitudes and behaviors, which might be very different from our expectations as parents. This is when a sense of unease sets in and trust that our children will make the right choices when faced with adversity and social challenges.

Peer Influence as a Motivator
The great thing about peers is that they introduce new and varied experiences to our children. Some children have traveled and lived all over the world, speak two or more different languages and have been exposed to customs and traditions that our kids haven’t.

There are opportunities to learn and grow with each interaction. The interactions might lead to new interests and a drive to accomplish or master new skills or pursue new interests. My best friend in high school was a very talented and creative musician…artist really. Music was never a big part of my family culture until my peers introduced me to different genres of music. I wanted to be a good guitar player and enjoyed playing and practicing. It didn’t come as naturally to me as my friend but it did open up a new world that I had never been exposed to before (think of the movie “Almost Famous”).

Another friend in elementary school had an older brother who actually played in a band and gigged around Seattle. I was backstage at concerts at 10yo. It was the 70’s and I definitely saw things that I had never seen before. I knew there was a bigger world out there and went out to explore it with gusto. This never would have happened if it wasn’t for my peers at the time.

The Benefits of Healthy Peer Relationships:
Learn what being a friend is all about. Peer interactions teaches children to to be respectful, kind, and the value of have an close emotional connection with someone.

Friends help encourage us to be our best. Peers set many outstanding examples. They can help establish strong academic and performance goals, encourage, and provide support as they face challenges and obstacles. Peers who are loyal, well-mannered, respectful and calm can teach us how to develop and apply these important values ourselves. They can keep us honest and on track and teach us the value of friendship and experience emotional closeness and safety.

These values can then be applied to other relationships. Peers also inspire us to achieve more than we ever thought possible. Seeing a Russian teenager perform in the Olympics, a 9 year-old from Holland with an incredible voice, and the 283 kids that participated in the Scripps Spelling Bee Championships in 2015 are exceptional and inspiring role models. Other kids are becoming Eagle Scouts, organizing car washes to support local charities, or volunteering at our local food banks, hospitals and vet clinics. They’re an inspiration to us all and help us to embrace the idea that anything is possible.

Peers provide us with valuable feedback & advice. Peers give us valuable feedback and advice as we venture out and try new activities, explore new activities, and challenge ourselves. They help us solve and resolve conflicts and encourage us to make good choices.

Peers help broaden our social network. Peers often spend time with others who have the similar, interests, attitudes and ideals as they do. They are all individuals varied experiences and viewpoints, ambitions and dreams. Some may compliment us in ways we never imaged, bring ideas that we never thought of or been exposed to, and talents that inspire and delight.

We may not get along with everyone and might find ourselves confronted with someone that does share our ideals, values or engage in behaviors that we think are right or just. Facing a peer with stark differences allows us to reaffirm what we value, practice being assertive, and sharpen our communication skills as we navigate our way through or away from challenging relationships.

Peers help to motivate us. Sometimes doing projects alone is difficult. Doing projects together with a group of peers who are like minded provides inspiration to move forward when we we want to throw our hands up and accept defeat. We want the best for our friends and will make personal sacrifices to insure that they succeed, that they are safe, goals are realized, or a conflict is resolved and a sense of balance and stability is restored.

Their success is shared by you as their friend. The joy experienced by them comes back around and enriches and nourishes you and your union with that person. It’s a beautiful thing to experience!

Peers help open the door to new experiences and activities. Peers come from a variety of backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles. Many kids from military families have attended as many as 14 schools by the time they reach high school and have lived all over the world, eaten a variety of different foods and experienced a variety of different cultures.

Locally you might find a peer who enjoys riding horses, riding quads, fishing, skiing, or is a member of a roller derby team. The background and interest of kids and teens your age are varied and rich. All you have to do is be open to trying new activities and experiences. The possibilities for discovery and fun are endless.

What Peer Pressure Looks Like:
Peer relationships can be stressful. There can be times when your peers do things that you don’t agree with or feel uncomfortable doing. The pressure may be direct and straightforward, like when a peer asks repeatedly to engage is sex, even though you’ve said “no” or that you’re not ready, drive without a license or sneak out of your house at night.

Pressure can also be more subtle like a peer smoking and leaving a pack of cigarettes on the table next to you, your friend stepping outside to do drugs, or having alcohol readily available at a social event.

Other forms of peer pressure come in the form of dressing or acting acting a certain way to fit in, forming certain attitudes about others and their likes or dislikes, and how to interact with adults including teachers and parents.

The pressure to do what your peers do can be challenging. People feel anxious or afraid that their might be some backlash from peers if you don’t go along with whatever’s happening, or shun you from the group, spread rumors about you, or lose aspects of the friendship that you appreciate.

These situations are tough to navigate and might be confusing especially for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience socially. When confused, we often look to others for reassurance and direction, even of that direction may not feel right for them. One might think that, “If it’s okay for my friend and others, then it must be okay for me too.” This can be good thing in the right context (i.e., a great volunteering experience, trying a new sport or activity) or something that is unsafe and risky.

Evaluating what is right for us is ongoing. People who don’t have a strong sense of who they are, their values, what they want or are more dependent and than independent, feel socially awkward and have difficulty with social and communication tend to be more influenced by the attitude and behaviors of others. They just have more difficulty navigating the complexity of some social situations.

Instead of taking a step back, thinking things through, and talking with adults they trust, they ride out whatever’s happening. If the consequences of our behaviors are not considered, people can easily find themselves in even higher risk and challenging situations. At that point, the ability to make good choices really fades and likelihood of a negative outcome increases rapidly. Add alcohol to this equation and one’s ability to navigate through a difficult situation decreases even further.

As an aside, alcohol use among veterans who expressed “hopelessness” about their past and future was one of the significant precursors for suicide among this population. Alcohol clouds our judgement, ability to think through situations, and decreases our ability to manage strong emotions. If there was one thing to stay away from, it’s alcohol.

What You Can Do When the Pressure is On:
You’re not alone. Nearly everyone has had to manage stress related to telling a peer something that might be construed as unpopular managing a difficult social situation, or making a decision to separate yourself from a situation when things seem to be going badly. Realizing that you do have a choice is important.

How do you know that the right choice is good for you and then how do you communicate it in a way that is thoughtful, honest and relatable? Standing up for yourself and saying “enough is enough” or that you don’t feel comfortable with how things are progressing or simply saying, “stop” or “NO” is challenging and takes self-confidence and courage. A strong belief in yourself and what you feel is important for YOU makes communicating these messages easier. The feeling of standing up for yourself and what you believe to be true for you is indescribable. Here are some tips to help you navigate peer pressure situations:

Trust your instincts. If there is something about a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, take a step back, take a deep breath and then decide if you want to move forward or tack in another direction. You’re the one in control. Decide what is best for you and move swiftly in that direction. Developing these critical thinking, resiliency, and problem solving skills will help you clarify your values and help you move closer toward independence and self-reliance.

Do some pre-planning. I often have teens draw out a timeline highlighting times where they feel little stress, some stress or are really stressed. This timeline can easily be applied to feeling uncomfortable in social situations. Think about the times that make you feel most uncomfortable and then decide how you want to manage it ahead of time. Role-play these scenarios with trusted adults in your life. There’s a good chance that they will have experienced or are currently experiencing a similar situation. You will feel better knowing that they know what you’re up against and that you’re taking action to decrease the pressure.

Develop codes or phrases that communicate that you need a rescue. That’s right, saying that you need to use the restroom to get away from a situation, that you allergies are acting up, or that you have a headache, feeling nauseous, or some other creative way to get some separation and think, are all okay when feeling or uncomfortable.

Creating a situation where you can decrease the pressure so you don’t feel overwhelmed, confused, or other strong feelings is the key. Please consider talking with your parents or other trusted adults about a key word or phrase that communicates that you need a rescue from an uncomfortable situation. Think about the trust that will be developed by letting your parents or caregivers know about a conflict and then taking active steps to resolve it with their support. Golden!

Assert yourself. Once you’ve decided that something is not right for you, it’s okay to communicate that to others. It actually feels really good to express what you believe and what’s true for you and why. Here are few steps to this process that might help:

  • Let your friend know that you have something you want to talk with them about.
  • Set a good time and place to talk.
  • Communicate what you like best about your relationship with that person.
  • Let them know what you want the relationship to be like and why.
  • Communicate in an honest, calm and nonjudgmental way what is getting in the way of the type of relationship you want.
  • Come to an agreement on how you want to move forward with the relationship or resolve your differences.
  • Follow though, be consist and honest with the other person about how things are going for you and the relationship (evaluation).

Make friends who share similar values as you do. Choosing friends who feel the same way you do can be a huge comfort and protect you in some ways from the pressures of others. Friends will speak up for you when you need support and provide advice on how to navigate challenging situations.

Reach out for help. If you find yourself in a risky or dangerous situation reach out for help from a trusted adult.

Resisting peer pressure can be challenging. The reward of realizing what’s important to you, what you want out of a relationship and communicating those needs to others are tremendously satisfying. Believe in yourself and what’s important to you. Share who you are and what you believe in and you will find direction and purpose. At that point, peer pressure has less of an impact on you as you have the confidence to manage these pressures more comfortably.

Please give us a call should you have difficulty manage peer pressure or if you observe your child to have difficulty managing these pressures, 360-236-0206. We’re here to help!

With Warmest Regards,

Dave Callies, Psy.D.
Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services
360-236-0206
866-616-GYRO (4976)

Published on: March 21, 2015  

BULLYING: Advice for Parents and their Kids

Parents can help kids and teens learn how to deal with bullying if it happens. For some parents, it may be tempting to tell a kid to fight back. After all, you’re angry that your child is suffering and maybe you were told to “stand up for yourself” when you were young. Or you may worry that your child will continue to suffer at the hands of the bully, and think that fighting back is the only way to put a bully in his or her place.

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However, it’s important to advise kids not to respond to bullying by fighting or bullying back. It can quickly escalate into violence, trouble, and someone getting injured. Instead, it’s best to walk away from the situation, hang out with others, and tell an adult.

Here are some other strategies to discuss with kids that can help to improve the situation and help them feel better.

 

ADVICE FOR KIDS AND TEENS:

  • Avoid the bully and use the buddy system. Use a different bathroom if a bully is nearby and don’t go to your locker when there is nobody around. Make sure you have someone with you so that you’re not alone with the bully. Buddy up with a friend on the bus, in the hallways, or at recess — wherever the bully is. Offer to do the same for a friend.
  • Hold the anger. It’s natural to get upset by the bully, but that’s what bullies thrive on. It makes them feel more powerful. Practice not crying or looking red or upset. It takes a lot of practice, but it’s a useful skill for keeping off of a bully’s radar. Sometimes kids find it useful to practice “cool down” strategies such as counting to 10, writing down their angry words, taking deep breaths, or walking away. Sometimes the best thing to do is to teach kids to wear a “poker face” until they are clear of any danger (smiling or laughing may provoke the bully).
  • Act brave, walk away, and ignore the bully. Firmly and clearly tell the bully to stop, then walk away. Practice ways to ignore the hurtful remarks, like acting uninterested or texting someone on your cell phone. By ignoring the bully, you’re showing that you don’t care. Eventually, the bully will probably get bored with trying to bother you.
  • Tell an adult. Teachers, principals, parents, and even lunchroom personnel at school can and should help stop bullying by staying watchful and intervening when necessary.
  • Talk about it. Talk to someone you trust, such as a guidance counselor, teacher, sibling, or friend. They may offer some helpful suggestions, and even if they can’t fix the situation, it may help you feel a little less alone.

 

RESTORING CONFIDENCE:

Dealing with bullying can erode a child’s confidence. To help restore it, encourage your kids to spend time with friends who have a positive influence. Participation in clubs, sports, or other enjoyable activities builds strength and friendships. If school activities are out of the question because of bullies, consider community clubs and teams.

Provide a listening ear about difficult situations, but encourage your kids to also tell you about the good parts of their day, and listen equally attentively. Make sure they know you believe in them and that you’ll do what you can to address any bullying that occurs.

 

ADVICE FOR PARENTS:

  • Talk with and Listen to Your Children Everyday. Ask questions about their school day, including experiences on the way to and from school, lunch, and recess. Ask about their peers. Children who feel comfortable talking to their parents about these matters before they are involved in bullying are more likely to get them involved after.
  • Spend time at School and Recess. Schools can lack the resources to provide all students individualized attention during “free” time like recess. Volunteer to coordinate games and activities that encourage children to interact with peers aside from their best friends.
  • Be a Good Example. When you get angry at other drivers, servers, or other people in the community, model effective communication techniques. As Education.com puts it, “Any time you speak to another person in a mean or abusive way, you’re teaching your child that bullying is okay.”
  • Create Healthy Anti-Bullying Habits. Starting as young as possible, coach your children on both what NOT to do (push, tease, and be mean to others) as well as what TO do (be kind, empathize, and take turns). Also coach your child on what to do if someone is mean to him or to another (get an adult, tell the bully to stop, walk away, and ignore the bully).
  • Make Sure Your Child Understands Bullying. Clearly explain what bullying is, and that it is not normal or tolerable for them to bully other kids, to be bullied, or to stand by and watch other kids get bullied.

 

NEED ADDITIONAL SUPPORT?

If you think your child would benefit from some additional support, consider calling us to set up an appointment with one of our psychologists at Gyro Psychology Services (360.236.0206). We serve children and adolescents ages 2-20 with a variety of emotional, mental, and behavioral health needs. 

We are located at 5191 Corporate Center Ct SE, Lacey, Washington, 98503. Or, check out the Resources page on our website for more information on bullying prevention and interventions, and a variety of other behavior health issues.  Our weekly Blog provides information and tips on tough issues that kids, teens, and their parents face.  Be sure to “like” us on Facebook to receive “Gyro’s Daily Welless Tips” on a variety of subject areas related to parenting and the health and wellness of your child and/or teen.

With Warmest Regards,

 

Dr. David Callies

Child & Adolescent Psychologist

Gyro Psychology Services

360-236-0206

 

Published on: March 15, 2015  

Helping Your Child or Teen Become an Effective Problem-Solver

Encouraging your child/teen to develop an effective process to solve personal and interpersonal problems is an important life skill that can be applied at home, in school, in social situations, and in community events, clubs and activities.  Successfully identifying a problem, developing emotional control, considering solutions and consequences and then taking thoughtful steps towards solving problems helps to build self-confidence and resilience. Moreover, developing an effective problem solving process fosters independent learning and critical thinking skills.

Teen and Father

Parents can help teach their child/teen how to effectively solve problems independently by utilizing some of these simple strategies:

Help your child/teen to manage strong feelings (emotional regulation) – Feelings of frustration, sadness, anxiety, and even excitement make identifying problems and generating solutions more challenging as their capacity to think clearly is diminished. Remaining calm is a central quality of all good problem solvers!

Our bodies respond to emotions in different ways. When angry, for example, some children become quiet and withdraw, while others raise their voices, move quickly and abruptly, and even become aggressive. Helping your child/teen identify how their body feels when they first start to feel emotions is a critical first step in helping them develop emotional regulation. Once recognized, they can take steps to calm down like thinking about something else, doing another activity (coloring, playing with Legos, word searches and even math problems). Engaging in other activities helps them focus their mind away from the frustrating circumstance and allows them to regain control and reset. Once calm, you can talk with your child/teen about what happened that led to their reaction and begin thinking through possible solutions and healthy action plans.

Identifying the problem – When you observe your child/teen having difficulty encourage them to recognize and describe the external (e.g., not understanding how to proceed with a project, friend is not available to meet) and internal factors (e.g., thinking about a loss, a friend rejecting them, not being chosen for an important role on an athletic team or theatrical event) that led to their reaction.

If talking about what happened is challenging, allow them to draw out the events and then describe them to you. This will allow your child/teen to understand the problem and what factors contributed to their reaction (e.g., not understanding what to do or where to start, feeling tired or hungry, or something not happening they way they expected).

Children and teens may not perceive the problem the same way adults do.  Allowing them to describe their experience and the perceived problem in their own words will lead them to trust their observations, communication and analytical sills.  Not only is this process part of the foundation of emotional development but rests at the heart of rational thinking.

Early in their development, children my not be able to verbalize the problem.  They just know that things are not working out the way they expected and are unable to be flexible in their thinking and adjust to changing circumstances. In such cases, simply state the problem for the child. If you say things like, “So the problem is…” children will eventually understand that clearly identifying problems leads to generating solutions and increased feelings of confidence and independence.

Give your child/teen the opportunity to generate solutions on their own – While a parent’s solutions might be more effective or efficient, simply giving the child a solution to the problem would deprive them of the opportunity to learn and develop confidence in their ability to generate creative solutions.

Once your child/teen has generated some solutions on their own, ask them how what they do might impact them and others around them (consequences). Allow them to try to solve the problem on their own and encourage them to come back to you and let you know how things turned out. I often talk with the children and teens I work with about being “scientists” and observing what happens when they make these important changes. Clipboards and rating scales are often a part of this process.

Identify what is and what isn’t working – To help children and teens move from a trial and error approach to a more systematic approach to problem-solving, encourage them to think about the results of their solutions. Parents can ask open-ended questions (e,g., Did it turn out the way you expected?; I wonder what would happen if…) and make comments (e.g., You seem happier now that you had a chance to talk with them) to help them consider alternatives.

Talking with your child or teen about what they did to solve the problem helps them to establish and cause-and- effect connection in their mind.  This will lead to them successfully solving problems on their own which will, in turn, build their self-confidence.

Once this mental association is in place and they’ve experienced being an effective problem solver, they stand a better chance of using this same approach when faced with conflicts and problems in the future. Be sure to praise them when they are able to use this process independently. You acknowledging them will go along way towards solidifying these skills and remind them of your kind presence and support.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Please visit the Resources section of our website for more information on Depression, Anxiety and Disruptive Behaviors as well tips on Parenting Teens and our article on Coping With Anger Outbursts.

Please contact one of our specialty-trained Psychologists should your child or teen need help with emotional control or developing effective and healthy strategies to solve problems, 360.236.0206.  We’re here to help!

Warmest Regards,

 

Dr. Dave Callies

Child & Adolescent Psychologist

Gyro Psychology Services

360.236.0206

Published on: October 12, 2014  

Improving your Child’s Self-Control

It can be frustrating and embarrassing when your child has a temper tantrum while shopping in a crowded mall, at the grocery store, at a sporting event, when visiting with fiends and even at home. There are some things you can do to help your child learn how to control their emotions, be more respectful to others, follow directions, stay in their area and think through situations before responding.

A young women smiles

Teaching your child about how to manage their emotions by thinking through situations and responding based upon the potential outcome of situations is one of the most important skills a parent can teach their children.

Helping Children & Teens Develop Self-Control

By learning to recognize intense emotions, understand what situations lead to them having strong emotional reactions and being able to slow their emotions down, think through situations, decide on an action and them move forward with their decision that they believe will yield the most positive outcome.

For example, if you say that you child/teen will be able to play a video game or their favorite television after they clean up their room, your child/teen might pretend they don’t hear you, become angry, say mean things to you or their siblings, stomp, threaten or even cry and yell to get you to give them what they want (video games; TV) without having to clean their room. In this case, throwing a temper tantrum is their primary strategy to get what they want.

Wouldn’t it be better for you and for them to be able to remain calm, think this situation through and realize that cleaning their room will result in earning the privilege you offer as well as a lot of other benefits like increased trust, a calmer and more relaxed home environment and your child or teen having a lot more free time.

Here are a few suggestions on how to help your child and teen learn to control their behavior:

Young children become very frustrated because they just can do some things they want to do. When you observe your child to become frustrated try to distract them with a toy or object they enjoy or eve a simple activity like patty cake. Children who are approaching the 2 year mark are ready for a brief (2-minute) timeout in a specific area like a chair or the bottom step of your staircase. Time outs allow your child to both learn that there is a consequence for their behavior and that they need to take some time away from a stressful situation and regain control.

Having your child take some time away from events and think things through is still effective for children 3 – 5 years-old. Rather than setting a specific time when the time out will end, it’s best to have the time-out last until your child is able to calm down. Having them use their words to describe what happened, their role in what happened and what they could have done differently sets the stage for them to make good choices should a similar situation arise. As they get older (6-9yo), walking away from stressful situations and generating solutions to problems more independently can be encouraged and reinforced through rewards and privileges.

As your child reached middle school you can encourage them to think about why they feel they way they do and to take time to think through situations before responding. As they reach the teen years, they should be able to control most of their actions. At this age you can remind them of the long-term consequences of their behaviors and choices

Be sure to model good self-control yourself. Show that good emotional control and problem solving are the ways to deal with a difficult situation. Please give us a call if your child or teen has difficulty with emotional control, 360.236.0206. We’re here to help!

With Warm Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services

5191 Corporate Center Court SE

Lacey, Washington 98503

P: 360.236.0206

T: 866.616.GYRO (4976)

F: 360.236.9909

www.GyroPsychology.com

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Published on: March 16, 2014  

Helping Your Child/Teen Develop An Effective Problem Solving Process

Encouraging your child/teen to develop an effective process to solve personal and interpersonal problems is an important life skill that can be applied at home, in school, in social situations, and in community events, clubs and activities.  Successfully identifying a problem, developing emotional control, considering solutions and consequences and then taking thoughtful steps towards solving problems helps to build self-confidence and resilience. Moreover, developing an effective problem solving process fosters independent learning and critical thinking skills.

Parents can help teach their child/teen how to effectively solve problems independently by utilizing some of these simple strategies:

Encourage your child/teen to manage strong feelings (emotional regulation) – Feelings of frustration, sadness, anxiety and even excitement make identifying problems and generating solutions more challenging as their capacity to think clearly is diminished. Remaining calm is a central quality of all good problem solvers!

The body responds to emotions in different ways for each individual. When angry, for example, some children become quiet and withdraw, while others raise their voices, move quickly and abruptly and even become aggressive. Helping your child/teen identify how their body feels when they first start to feel emotions is a critical first step in helping them develop emotional regulation. Once recognized, they can take steps to calm down like thinking about something else, doing another activity (coloring, playing with Legos, word searches and even math problems) which can focus their mind away from the frustrating circumstance and allow them to reset. Once calm, you can talk with your child/teen about what happened that led to their reaction and begin the process of generating solutions.

Encourage your child/teen to identify the problem – When you observe your child/teen having difficulty hold back and allow them to recognize and describe the problem.  If talking about what happened is challenging, allow them to draw out the events and then describe them to you. This will allow your child/teen to understand the problem and what factors contributed to their reaction (e.g., not understanding what to do or where to start, feeling tired or hungry, or something not happening they way they expected). Children and teens may not perceive the problem the same way adults do.  Allowing them to describe their experience and the perceived problem in their own words will lead them to trust their observations, communication and analytical sills.  Not only is this process part of the foundation of emotional development but rests at the heart of rational thinking.

Early in their development, children my not be able to verbalize the problem.  They just know that things are not working out the way they expected and are unable to be flexible in their thinking and adjust to changing circumstances. In such cases, simply state the problem for the child. If you say things like, “So the problem is…” children will eventually understand that clearly identifying problems leads to generating solutions.

Once they’ve identified the problem, give your child/teen the opportunity to generate solutions on their own – While a parent’s solutions might be more effective or efficient, simply giving the child a solution to the problem would deprive them of the opportunity to learn and develop confidence in their ability to generate creative solutions. Once your child/teen has generated some solutions on their own, ask them how what they do might impact them and others around them (consequences). Allow them to try to solve the problem on their own and encourage them to come back to you and let you know how things turned out.

Talk with your child & teen about what is and what isn’t working – To help children and teens move from a trial and error approach to a more systematic approach to problem solving, encourage them to think about the results of their solutions. Parents can ask open-ended questions (e,g., Did it turn out the way you expected?) and make comments (e.g., You seem happier now that you had a chance to talk with them) to help them consider alternatives.

Talking with your child or teen about what they did to solve the problem helps them to establish and cause-and- effect connection in their mind.  This will lead to them successfully solving problems on their own which will, in turn, build their self-confidence.

Once this mental association is in place and have the experience of being effective problem solvers, they stand a better chance of using this same approach when faced with conflicts and problems in the future.

We hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Please visit the Resources section of our website for more information on Depression, Anxiety and Disruptive Behaviors as well tips on Parenting Teens and our article on Coping With Anger Outbursts.

Please contact one of our specialty-trained Psychologists should your child or teen need help with emotional control or developing an effective problem-solving process, 360.236.0206.  We’re here to help!

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services

360.236.0206

866.616.4976

Health Disclaimer

Published on: January 29, 2014  

Resolving Sibling Conflict

As any parent knows, conflict between siblings is normal.  Daily conflicts that are intense, physical and conflicts that persist over a period of time often lead to frustration and worry. They are challenging for parents to watch, and often, parents aren’t sure how, or when, to intervene.

There are a number of things parents can do to help their children resolve conflicts with each other. Here are some helpful tips to help decrease the frequency and intensity of such conflicts:

  • Set Specific Ground Rules. As a family, get input on ground rules for respectful interaction. Be sure to identify specific consequences for following through on the ground rules and what will happen if they are not followed. Your consistent follow through on consequences will let your children know that you value respectful interaction and the appropriate resolution to conflicts. Here are a few examples of common ground rules: no physical hurting, name calling, cursing, yelling, tattling, etc. is allowed. Gaining their input helps to increase responsibility and “buy in” to these rules.
  • Stay Out of It. When possible, avoid intervening during minor disputes, providing your kids with the chance to work it out on their own. Remember, younger kids may need you to intervene more often in order help along the problem solving process, and ALWAYS intervene when there is danger of physical harm. Remain available to help them resolve conflicts by providing them with options and consequences to their behaviors. Remember, conflict resolution is a skill that needs to be learned and reinforced.
  • Don’t Take Sides. Don’t spend time trying to determine who “started it” – anyone who is involved is responsible. Also, avoid making comparisons between children.
  • Teach Good Conflict Resolution Skills. Your children are more likely to resolve conflict on their own if they’ve developed the appropriate skills. Be sure to teach them appropriate ways to gain positive attention from each other, as well as how to compromise, share, and be respectful. Also, show them how to express their feelings without calling names, yelling, etc. Do your best to model good problem solving skills with your spouse/partner as well as with your children. Teaching positive conflict resolution skills will serve you well in the long run.
  • Set Aside Time for Each Child. Set aside time to interact with your children individually. Remember to be emotionally available to them and encourage them to talk about frustrations they have, what they want and how they plan to resolve conflicts or maintain positive behaviors. Ne sure to allow this time to be directed toward each child’s interests and needs. Even just 10-15 minutes a day will be meaningful.
  • Family Time. Be sure to plan regular fun family activities. Enjoyable experiences together can help ease tension and serve as a buffer during conflict. However, also allow your children the time to do their own thing and have some space.
  • Encourage Win-Win Negotiations. Help them problem solve through the situation, where each side is gaining something.

When helping your children resolve conflicts, it’s important to keep in mind that their developmental level influences how mature they are and what they need. Learning positive ways to cope with conflict is an important life skill that develops over time. With a patience and practice, you can help your children develop this important skill.

Please take at look at the Resources section of our website for more information on Parenting Teens.

If your children continue to have conflicts and you need some support in developing an action plan, please give us a call, 360.236.0206.  We’re here to help!

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services

360.236.0206

866.616.GYRO (4976)

Health Disclaimer