12 Tips for Winter Break: Set Some Structure

12 Tips for Winter Break: Set Some Structure

This month I’m sharing 12 Tips to help parents manage behaviors (and still have fun!) over winter break!

Winter break gives you a lot of unstructured time.

For kids and teens who run a little more anxious or overwhelmed, that unstructured time can lead to stress related behaviors. Yes, there’s a lot of fun to be had with family and presents and dinners and toys… and there’s a lot of potential for overwhelm.

When your kid is overwhelmed and acting out, it can feel like they’re ruining the holidays.

And you maybe feel bad for even thinking that… but the truth is, we put a lot of time and energy into making winter break and winter holidays fun. When things don’t go according to plan, or when we have our little one throwing a huge tantrum in front of your whole extended family, it can feel overwhelming for you as well!

How do we help with this?

We set up a framework for winter break that’s easy for everyone to follow.

Tip 1: Prepare

Tip 2: Set Clear Expectations

Tip 3: Time Management

Read More

Wizard/Lizard Brain: BrainWise Curriculum for Impulse Control in Anxious, Angry Kids

Wizard/Lizard Brain: BrainWise Curriculum for Impulse Control in Anxious, Angry Kids

Is your lizard brain taking over?

Everyone has a pre-frontal cortex and an amygdala. When we take in information to our brain, we either send it to our “lizard brain” or our “wizard brain.”

The BrainWise curriculum was designed to help kids build social and emotional control and self-regulation skills - perfect for anxious, angry kids and pre-teens. When I previously worked in the Saint Louis Counseling School Partnership Program, I received training in this program, and still use components of it in my practice today. To be clear, I’m not TECHNICALLY providing brainwise as I’m not maintaining really strict fidelity with the model. And honestly, I felt parts of the program were not so helpful - but the framework can be good to keep in mind for parents and teachers, as you work on helping your children and students take a step back and make better decisions.

Below you’ll find an brief summation of the different BrainWise modules.

If you’re interested in finding more about BrainWise, or you have questions about the model that you want answered by an expert, you can email info@brainwise-plc.org

Read More

Panic Attack Management: 5 Simple Steps

Panic Attack Management: 5 Simple Steps

Don’t judge yourself!

Many people report experiencing panic attacks about panic attacks. Of course it makes sense to wish that you didn’t have to experience them. Or to wish that you were different. But when we judge ourselves, we can make this an unhealthy cycle - the panic, the guilt about the panic, the panic about the guilt about the panic… it’s a panic cycle! So break the cycle, and be kind to yourself. And practice your steps, even before you need them.

Read More

Helping Kids Manage Their Unhelpful Thoughts

Helping Kids Manage Their Unhelpful Thoughts

What language do you use when talking to yourself?

When you make a mistake, do you tell yourself, "Well, I can try again next time. I can address X, Y, or Z and that may help"? Or do you say, "I'm an idiot. This is useless. There's no point in trying"?

Not so surprisingly, one of those thoughts is more helpful than the other. And it's not just adults who engage in these negative, unhelpful cognitions. Children are particularly prone to negative self-talk, especially if positive self-talk or thought flipping is not modeled for them. 

Read More

Teens, School, and Stress Management

Teens, School, and Stress Management

One of the most important components of stress management and a busy schedule is prioritizing.

A lot of the anxious, perfectionist teens I work with feel overwhelmed by the amount of things to get done during the busy school year.

Rather than letting all of those tasks feel insurmountable, you can break down what needs to be done and when.

Step by step.

Figure out the steps needed to reach your goal, and keep those steps really specific and time-sensitive (such as, "I need to research 10 articles for this upcoming history paper by Tuesday," vs. just "I need to start work on my history paper.")

Read More