Thursday, September 22, 2011

How to help your child control their impulses..

Many children are impulsive.  Impulse control is managed in the frontal lobe, and some children are better at it than others.  But it can certainly be improved upon.  One way to do this is through age appropriate exercises and discussions that help 'flex' and strengthen the impulse control 'muscle' in the frontal lobe.  Research shows that with practice, this skill can be improved upon!  Here are some ways how:

Get them thinking!  Instead of TELLING a child what to do ("Don't touch that!"), get the child's mind working by ASKING them what would happen if they carried out the behavior in question.  Ask them how different ways of handling the same situation would result in different outcomes.  This helps exercise the part of the brain that controls executive functioning. Executive functioning includes impulse control, planning, organizing, and thinking about past consequences and future outcomes.  This functioning can be improved with your support and encouragement.  Just think of it this way: you're teaching your child how to think!

You can also play games with them.  For example, with younger children, play Simon Says or Red Light/Green Light.  This helps them take their thought processes one step beyond just reacting.  They are forced to think before they react.  With practice, they'll get better at this, and it will help them control impulses in every day life.

Develop a visual cue with your child that you can use in public that will help them 'stop and think'.

Board games such as "Stop, Relax & Think", "Look Before you Leap" and "The Angry Monster Machine" are great tools to help children improve their impulse control.

When your child uses impulse control, be sure to point out what a good job they did.  Be specific.  Don't just say, 'Good job!!'.  Say, 'I like how you waited your turn in line, even though you wanted to jump ahead.  You waited patiently for everyone and that a wonderful display of patience!'

Saturday, August 20, 2011

ADHD and food

I've long thought that ADD/ADHD was influenced by diet.  I notice when I eat 'wrong' I lose focus and get more irritable, and have always suspected a link.  Click HERE to read an article that supports it!

I'm not in total agreement with the article.  For example, several breakfast ideas are suggested.  Many of the options would have LOTS of hidden sugar, including the pancakes, yogurt, and granola.  Just be sure to read labels!  Simple carbs magnify ADHD.  Simple carbs include white bread and pastas, sugar, and potatoes.  You MUST read labels, because sugar is in most deli meet, sauces, dressings, cereals, yogurt, and many canned goods.  Corn syrup, pure kane sugar, brown sugar, and honey are more things to watch out for.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Need help? Try 211!

If you are at a loss as to where to find social services or other resources, calling 211 is a great place to start.  They offer referrals to housing, food assistance, child care, counseling, shelters, emergency assistance and much more with a simple phone call.  Visit for more information!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Do I need counseling?

Sometimes it's hard to know when it's time to see professional help for a mental health issue. For some problems, it may be adequate to read some books, do some research, and try to fix mental health or relational problems on your own. But if you've come to a point where you've tried and tried, or you feel like you are not sure where to turn, it may be time to enlist the help of a counselor. Even with problems that may seem simple, it can be extremely helpful to have an outside party give some perspective and guidance.

But how can you tell if you have a really serious problem that almost always requires the help of a professional? Here are some warning signs to look for:

* Suicidal - the person makes comments or shows signs of being suicidal

* The person is no longer able to function in one or more areas of their lives, including their personal or professional roles

*The person feels very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks and it's not due to bereavement

*Overwhelming fear for no reason that comes on all of a sudden. This is often accompanied by a racing heart beat or heavy breathing.

*Severe behavior that puts the person and/or others in harm's way. This may include violence or risk taking

*Not eating, throwing up, or taking laxatives to lose weight

*Intense worry or fear that gets in the way of living life normally

*Difficulty staying still or concentrating which impacts work or school negatively

*Frequent intoxication from drugs or alcohol

*Severe mood swings that interfere with work or relationships

*Drastic changes in personality

*Any behavior that causes a major life crisis, such as divorce, school failure, physical violence, etc.

Monday, July 11, 2011

ADD and ADHD - the myths and facts explored

Is it possible that you or a loved one has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)?  First of all, allow me to dispel a common myth.  ADD/ADHD is not simply a problem of not being able to focus.  It's much more complicated than that.  It's more like a syndrome that affects your ability to manage your focus.  So while those with ADD/ADHD may have a hard time focusing, they may also have a hard time stopping an activity they are really interested in.  Another major part of ADD/ADHD that many don't realize is the short term and working memory problems.  Things are easily forgotten and lost, and it is hard to hold information in the brain long enough to work out problems.  This is why many with ADD/ADHD have problems working out complex problems, reading, thinking about consequences, learning from mistakes and punishment, etc.  This is related to their executive function deficits, which make them impulsive, unorganized, irresponsible, and poor at planning.  One author described ADD/ADHD as a condition that rendered you unable to be affected by your past or future, but only by the present.  That is why those with ADHD/ADD may 'do the easy, fun thing' in the moment, and not think about consequences or outcomes. Fortunately, this condition has been extensively studied and written about, and there are many things that can be done to help those with ADD/ADHD compensate for their shortcomings.  If you would like to make an online appointment with me, please feel free to email me.  I offer online and telephone counseling to give suggestions about how to better manage ADD/ADHD.  For more information, visit

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I'm open for business!

Last month I passed my licensing exam for independent social work, so that means now I can start private practice.  I'm really excited about this new phase of my career and am humbled at the opportunity I have to team with people to change their lives for the better.  I'm a big advocate of education, so as I learn new things, or have new challenges, I'll share what I learn here!  I hope you will find this blog useful in your own life journey.

I just put up my website.  It's a work in progress, but the basics are there.  Come visit me there too! .