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Archive for the For Parents Category

Published on: September 18, 2016  

Music & Your Child’s Development

Whether dancing around the family room, dancing to Just Dance 3, making up songs the beats in the car or singing along to some of our favorite songs, most school-age kids love listening to and participating in creating music.

My son, Andrew, is a budding pianist while Allison is taking lessons for the piano and violin and has just begun voice lessons. Singing, playing a variety of musical instruments, and wonderfully organized community performances are a focal point in their school’s curriculum.

My daughter’s experience as an actress in three performances at the Tacoma Music Playhouse has set the stage for her blossoming interest in music, dance, and theater.


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Research shows that kids who are actively involved in music:

  • Are better readers.
  • Perform better in math and the sciences.
  • Have better reasoning skills and cognitive skills.
  • Tend to get along better with their peers and have a healthy self-esteem.
  • Are more likely to go to college.
  • Students who’ve been involved in public school music programs score higher on their SATs than those who are not involved.

Here are some tips on how to bring music into your family:

Mix it up. The early elementary-school years are an optimal time to expose kids to a wide variety of music from jazz, classical, rhythm and blues, latin, and country. You’ll find that most kids are open to exploring and experiencing a variety of musical styles until around the third grade, when they begin to develop more individual tastes. What’s interesting is that kids in grades four and up prefer music with a faster tempo. So, get ready to pump it up as your children approach the middle school years.

Fill your child’s life with music.

  • Download a variety of genres of music on your child’s mp3 player.
  • Introduce kids to songs from your own childhood or music you especially love.
  • Involve your child in creating their own rhythms, lyrics, and songs.
  • Make your own musical instruments. Have instruments available in your child’s play area.
  • Cook to music, clean to music, and take time to sit, listen and enjoy music together.
  • Form your own family band with real or improvised instruments (spoons, makeshift drums, etc.). Our family band is called the “The One Up One Downs.” We gig daily…

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 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: November 29, 2015  

Managing Stress

There are so many things that can lead to us feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Stress is something that crosses the lifespan but there are healthy ways to fell decrease the effects of stress and get back to feeling calm, relaxed and focused.

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As you know, our bodies respond to situations differently. If we feel threatened, afraid or anxious, our bodies react giving us the extra resources we need to rise to face the challenge. Our hearts beat a little faster, our blood pressure rises, our focus increases, blood rushes to larger muscle groups, our senses heighten, and we feel more alert. Working properly, our response to stress enhances our ability to perform under pressure.

Our response to stress is rooted in biology and is designed to give your body everything it needs to meet the challenge of a real or perceived threat. Your response to stress can also be mildly activated when faced with doing a presentation in your most challenging class, having a difficult conversation with a close friend, or sitting for mid-terms. The system get activated to help give you the tools needed to overcome a challenge. When the demands have decreased, the system slows down, recedes and waits at the ready until the next challenge surfaces.

This system can be activated activated all the time, sending out stress hormones for weeks, months and been years when you are faced with multiple and long lasting challenges. This can deplete your body’s reserves, leaving you feeling drained, fatigued, anxious and depressed. A host of somatic and health-related problems like high blood pressure and decreased ability to fight infections are likely to follow if this system remains activated.

Unfortunately, managing challenges and diversity is ongoing throughout the lifespan. You may be unable to improve your current circumstance but you can take steps to manage the impact these events have on you. Learning to identify what stresses you and how to take care of yourself physically and emotionally is the key to successfully managing stress. Here are a few helpful tips:

Identify situations & circumstances that cause stress. The key to managing stress is to identify situations that cause you to feel overwhelmed. The first step is to write down what stresses you beginning with what’s most stressful to the least stressful. After that, figure out why these situations situations leave you feeling anxious or overwhelmed.

Make a plan. Once you’ve identified the situations that cause stress, you need to develop a strategy to keep these feelings at bay and not let it get the better of you. Notice how you body feels when feeling stressed. Once identified, take a deep breath and think about something positive and engage in a healthy activity you enjoy. Seek help from trusted adults and peers if you need to. Practicing managing your emotions in situations that are mildly stressful will get you prepared for more intense challenges.

Keep a close eye on your thoughts. The way you think influences the way you perceive yourself and the world. For example, think of change as an opportunity to learn and grow. Also, know that stressors are often temporary and can be managed successfully with the right attitude, preparation, and self-care.

Maintain a healthy sleep-wake schedule. Getting enough sleep is so important for many different reasons. Please resist the urge to stay up all night the night before a test, presentation, or special event. Remaining focused, energized, and clear minded are all linked to good quality sleep.

Maintain a healthy diet. Another way to push back stress is to maintain a healthy diet. You can always visit a dietician or nutritionist to help develop a plan that will work for you. Checking in with your child’s Pediatrician ahead of a visit with a specialist is always recommended.

Maintain a manageable schedule. Piling on activities and commitments is easy to do especially for the ambitious. Be sure to regularly evaluate your level of activity. If you’re stretched too thin, consider cutting out one or two of the activities that may be less meaningful for you leaving those that are the most important on your schedule.

Stress is very real and if not managed can cause some real problems. You’ll feel a lot better once you’ve identified the circumstances that lead to stress and developed a plan manage stress more effectively.

Please contact us if your child is having difficulty managing stressors. One our specialty-trained Psychologists would be happy to help you and your child develop an individualized plan to help manage stress more effectively, 360-236-0206.

With Warmest Regards,

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

Published on: November 28, 2015  

Choosing to be a Stay at Home Parent

A colleague of mine had started a brilliant career as a Psychologist having completed two esteemed fellowships. Her dream was to enter academia and work toward receiving tenure as a professor.BlueStacks Offline Installer

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Along the way she became a mother and that professional pathway became harder to navigate. She saw many of her classmates get jobs at prominent universities and wondered what her professional life may have looked like had she not chosen to stay home with her children.

This is a nicely article written by Jessica Levy via the New York Times that talks about how she chose to communicate her choice to be a stay at home mother to her friends who chose very different paths. Enjoy!

With Warmest Regards,

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

Published on: November 28, 2015  

The Distraction of Digital Devices

I recently returned from a football game where I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with friends under the alumni tent. I realized that none of us took our phones out, played fruit ninja, scrolled through e-mails or flipped through Instagram and Tumblr posts.

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I have sat at restaurants where I’ve observed an entire table of friends and family glued to their phones…no eye contact, no “hey check this out,” not even a wink.

The food arrives and everything changes. The focus is on enjoying the food served and one another…there’s engagement.

Once the meal is over, out come the electronics and the eyes pierce through touch screens and absorb whatever informations flashes up at them.

This is an interesting and very well-written article that looks at how electronics use impacts our relationships. I hope you enjoy it!

Question: When do you think it’s an appropriate time (age, grade, etc…) for child to have their very own cell phone?

With Warmest Regards,

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

Published on: November 28, 2015  

Teaching Children to Give

Here’s an interesting article that provides some ideas about how you can teach your children about the value of giving by sharing your own stories about how others have given generously to you. Enjoy!

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With Warmest Regards,

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

Published on: November 25, 2015  

Confronting Stereotypes

Stereotypes are still alive and well in our society. I have seen parents from so many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds over the years that I don’t really see parents who are completely disengaged.

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What I do see, are parents who are trying their very best under sometimes extreme situations to be the very best parents they can be. Sometimes the back story is that their parents raised them to be a certain way and they don’t know how to form an attachment bond with their child, appropriately discipline them, or communicate with them effectively.

This thoughtful article speaks to care and love experienced by all parents who are deeply committed to raising a child with love, affection, and compassion. Enjoy!

With Warmest Regards,

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

 

Published on: November 25, 2015  

Unlock Your Brain’s Potential to Protect Against Decline

My Mom does word exercises everyday and is an avid reader and follower of the stock market. My grandmother took classes in art and history at the University of Washington well into her 70’s to keep her mind active. She was an impressive lady!

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Here’s an interesting article about maintaining brain health. Included in the article is a link to a “BrainHealth physical.” The BrainHealth Physical is a unique cognitive assessment of the performance of the frontal lobe of your brain, which is responsible for planning, judgment, decision-making, problem solving and other executive functions. Enjoy!

With Warmest Regards,

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

Published on: October 25, 2015  

Healthy Relationships

There are many different types of relationships; business relationships, relationships between spouses, parents, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. There are qualities inherent in healthy relationships regardless of the type. The same is true for unhealthy relationships.

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Some are aware that relationships need to be tended to and nurtured. The effort is taken to show how much you value your relationship by being present and making some personal sacrifices so that the relationship can grow and flourish. Some are acutely aware of when the relationships take a turn and it is no longer healthy and personally fullfilling. Pediatric Stethoscope Review, A time and location are decided upon and a conversation happens where you express your concerns, thoughts and feelings and what you want and expect from the relationship. Adjustments are talked about and accepted, or not, and the relationship sets a new course.

Others don’t notice that a relationship is distorted and blurred and end up remaining in an unfulfilling relationship for days, weeks, years, and even decades before their rationale for staying in the relationship is questioned and they communicate what they want, what they need, and a plan on how to achieve that. Or, they ignore what they feel, remain hurt and confused, and rationalize why they should remain in an unhealthy and even toxic relationship. No matter how absurd or obtuse, in spite of the sorrow and loneliness that festers in their heart they remain.

It’s tragic really as choice has a lead role in relationships. One’s choice to be in a fulfilling, healthy and joyful relationship must be shrouded by other needs or desires (e.g., financial reason, “my son needs a father-figure in his life”). Or, perhaps it’s hard to tell the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship because a healthy relationship has never been truly experienced, sought after, or enjoyed.

Qualities of unhealthy relationships:
People often talk about unhealthy relationships as being lopsided and distorted in some way. Feeling controlled and hesitant to be honest about your thoughts and feelings for fear of some form of retribution. People in this situation will pretend to have beliefs and values to appease the other person instead of feeling free to express themselves openly and without reservation. The opposite for feeling free is feeling trapped; knowing that something bad might happen if you say or do something that the other person may not like. Along with feeling trapped comes feeling afraid, worried, sad, and angry. Have these feelings and experiences consistently over time, with out resolution, then you’re likely in an unhealthy relationship.

Qualities of healthy relationships:
There are a few qualities that are common in healthy relationships; respect, trust, honesty, and communication, not to mention loyalty and commitment. Individuals who are in healthy relationships want to learn about their partner and what they value are present and emotionally available to them, and openly share thoughts and feelings.

When these components are in place you feel good about yourself, feel comfortable sharing your opinions, feelings, and sensitive stories and memories, without the fear of being judged or ridiculed. Time shared is valued but you can also explore your own personal interests separate from the relationship. Those are the things that we bring back and share which brings new life to the evolving relationship. Have experiences and feelings like this consistently over time then you’re likely in a healthy relationship.

Feeling connected with someone is so important. I hope every one of you is involved in at least one healthy relationship in your life.  Please cherish and nurture what you share!

With Warmest Regards,

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