Mental Health

“My Kid Struggles with Writing – How Can I Help?”

“My kid is so smart and explains ideas so well – she just can’t seem to write them down!”

If writing challenges are holding your child back in school, they may have a learning disorder called dysgraphia. Check out this week’s blog to learn the signs and how you can help.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “Am I in an abusive relationship?”   All relationships have their ups and downs, so sometimes it can be hard to know if you’re experiencing a rough patch or if your relationship is truly unhealthy. What’s more difficult is that abusers often come off as electric, passionate, and attentive, making it easy to get caught up in their charm. However, it’s important to be able to recognize warning signs of abuse. Without intervention, abuse will always escalate and can result in emotional trauma, physical violence, and irreversible tragedy.    But no relationship is perfect, so how can a person know if they’re experiencing abuse? Here are 10 red flags to look out for:    1. “Love bombing”   Abusers don’t usually show blatant warning signs in the beginning. In fact, they often appear to be perfect at first to hook their partner in. They might do something called, “love bombing” where they shower you with compliments, gifts, and attention to win you over before showing their true colors. Abusers are often quick to get involved, saying, “I love you,” early on and rushing to move in together, get engaged, or have a baby. The more serious they can make the relationship, the harder it is for their partner to leave.   2. Prohibited privacy   Abusers don’t respect their partners’ right to privacy. They come off as paranoid and may frequently accuse their partner of cheating, often because they’re hiding something themselves. If your partner invades your privacy in any of the following ways, they’re not exhibiting a healthy level of trust and respect:    Constantly questioning where you’re going and who you’re with    Expressing distrust every time you aren’t with them    Demanding to know your passwords     Monitoring your phone, email, and social media    Expecting you to call or text them around the clock     Telling you to snap pictures to prove your location      Calculating mileage and time frames to verify your whereabouts    Asking friends to spy on you or showing up at inappropriate times to monitor you     3. Isolation and possession   In healthy relationships, both people maintain friendships and identities outside of one another. In an abusive relationship, the abuser creates an “us against them” mentality, guilting you for any time spent away from them and vilifying those who you were once close to. They may discourage you from seeing your friends and family or create drama to draw a wedge between you and your loved ones.   4. Compulsive controlling   In the beginning, an abuser will say that their controlling behaviors are for your benefit. “I don’t like you working because I want to take care of you.” “I don’t want you wearing that shirt because creeps will hit on you.” But these concerns are often a ruse for the abuser to gain control. Know that it’s not healthy for your partner to demand their permission for your clothing or appearance, hobbies, employment, or spending.   5. Frivolous fighting   Abusers pick fights over anything, starting small and escalating to test how much their partner will put up with. They tend to have dual personalities, being loving one moment and explosive the next. Unfortunately, abusers often only show their “good side” to acquaintances outside of the relationship, causing some friends and family not to believe that they are capable of abuse.   6. Calling you crazy   “Gaslighting,” or manipulating their partner to think that they’re the problem, is a go-to-technique for most abusers. An abuser will blame you for their actions and make baseless accusations to take the focus off of their actions.      Examples:   	“You make me like this!”  “I wouldn’t have to cheat if you weren’t such a nag! All guys cheat – you’re the one with a problem.”  “You think I’m abusive? Listen to yourself! Girls can’t abuse guys - your stupid friends are putting crazy ideas in your head!”   7. Constant criticism   In a healthy relationship, both people want to see each other succeed. Abusers, on the other hand, want their partners to feel worthless so they won’t feel empowered to leave them. They achieve this by criticizing and demeaning their partner, telling them that no one else would want them and belittling their accomplishments. Whether or not abuse ever escalates to physical violence, verbal and emotional abuse can create lasting trauma and present a harmful example to children in the home.   8. Violence or intimidation   Violence and intimidation should be deal breakers in any relationship. Examples may include:    Forcing you to do sexual acts       Breaking or striking things    Abandoning you in unfamiliar places    Making you use drugs or alcohol    Restricting your eating or sleeping    Preventing you from calling police or getting medical help    Driving recklessly with you in the car    Threatening or harming you, your pets, or people you love    Punishing animals or children harshly for not performing beyond their abilities, such as hitting a puppy for not being housebroken yet    Using weapons to intimidate    Hitting, pushing, shoving, grabbing arms or wrists, hair pulling or any other type of physical force      9. You’ve made excuses for them   “You don’t know him like I do.” “She didn’t mean it.” “It was my fault.”   Many people stay in bad relationships because they think they don’t deserve better or that they can change their partner’s behavior. Others want to leave but are afraid of the consequences. Know that if you’re afraid of what your partner might do if you leave, you are in an abusive relationship and should seek help right away.   There’s a better future waiting for you   If you’re experiencing abuse, you may feel hopeless and think there’s no way out. But it’s important to know that abuse is never acceptable, and there are safe ways to get help and move onto a brighter future. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, call the National Crisis Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233   Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life         
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References:   Koehn, B. (2017, October 31). Early Signs of an Abusive Relationship. Retrieved from   https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_588e6c63e4b06364bb1e2730/amp  National Domestic Violence Hotline: Get Help Today: 1-800-799-7233. (n.d.). Retrieved   from https://www.thehotline.org/  New Hope for Women. (n.d.). Retrieved from   http://www.newhopeforwomen.org/abuser-tricks  Signs of an abusive relationship. (n.d.). Retrieved from   https://au.reachout.com/articles/signs-of-an-abusive-relationship   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn. M.M. (2019). Am I in An Abusive Relationship?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/test-blog/am-i-in-an-abusive-relationship

“Am I in an abusive relationship?”

“You don’t know him like I do.” “It’s just a rough patch.” “I made her do it.”

Do you know the tell-tale signs of an abusive relationship? Check out this week’s blog to find out.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “Why is my kid struggling so much with math?”   Does your child struggle with making sense of cents? Is he chronically late because he can’t read a clock? Does she always seem to mix up left and right? If so, your kid could have dyscalculia, a learning disability that affects a person’s ability to understand and perform math operations. While dyscalculia doesn’t have a cure, there are strategies that can help your child develop skills to overcome challenges and succeed in school.    So what should parents do if they suspect their kid could have a math learning disability?    1. Learn the symptoms   Children with dyscalculia may struggle with concepts such as:     Biggest and smallest    Telling time    Money sense    Directions and map-reading    Working memory (remembering numbers from a problem in their head when there’s several steps)    Remembering math facts, symbols, or word problems     2. Consider other issues   While dyscalculia can occur on its own, other disorders can also contribute to math troubles including   dyslexia  ,      visual or auditory processing disorders,  ADHD  , or math anxiety. Effectively supporting your child starts with receiving an accurate diagnosis. An evaluation from a   Specialist in Educational Psychology   can determine if your child has a diagnosis and how to best support them.   Think your child may have a diagnosis? Click below to schedule your free 15-minute consultation to learn how our specialists can help      


   
     
      
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      3. Engage the senses   A multisensory approach encourages kids to use their sight, hearing, touch, and movement to grasp math skills. By engaging each of their senses, they become more active and alert, allowing for stronger connections with what they’re learning. Use the following techniques to reinforce math concepts through each of your child’s senses:      SIGHT : Use manipulatives such as blocks, buttons, or cereal to help them visualize math problems. Then have them write out the equation they created to reinforce the lesson.      HEARING : Songs and musical notes can be great teaching tools for math concepts such as algorithms, grouping, and fractional parts.     TOUCH : It can be helpful for kids to tap out numbers so they can “feel” their values and put sensations to amounts.     MOVEMENT : Use movement to help students bring to life what they’ve learned. Have them demonstrate angles by rotating their arms or practice synchronized clapping as they recite their times tables.   4. Seek school accommodations   If your child receives a dyscalculia diagnosis, they may qualify for an educational plan such as an IEP or 504 Plan to gain accommodations in school. These accommodations can help level the playing field by reducing obstacles that dyscalculia presents for your child.   Accommodations   may include:     Addition time on tests    Calculator usage    Less math homework    Use of manipulatives to solve problems    Use of graphing paper or scrap paper    A quiet area to work.      5. Make math fun at home   Learning is easier when you’re having fun! Find informal, stress-free ways to incorporate math at home. Involve your kid in measuring ingredients at dinner, play board games that incorporate calculations, and download apps that strengthen math concepts. Learning an instrument or playing team sports are also fun ways to reinforce math skills.   6. Be open with your kid   Have age-appropriate conversations with your child about their diagnosis so they can understand how they learn differently. Speak positively as you explain that things that come easily to one person can be more of a struggle for someone else. For example, your kid may be gifted at pitching in baseball, while someone else may be more of a natural at batting. As your child gets older, you can share more details about their diagnosis and tips to help them overcome challenges. By speaking about dyscalculia as a normal, non-threatening issue, you’ll help shape the way your child views their abilities.   7. Encourage a growth mindset   Some kids with dyscalculia have a fixed mindset, meaning they believe their intelligence is “fixed” and unimprovable no matter how hard they try. Encourage a growth mindset by explaining that the brain is like any other muscle that can be trained and strengthened. Ensure your child that if they put in the effort, they can improve their math skills. Practice positive affirmations and praise your child’s efforts as much as you praise their accomplishments.    Example : “You did a great job in the store today paying for your new game. I could tell how hard you thought about the right amount to give the cashier.”     Click here    for more tips on fostering a growth mindset in your child     8. Seek help   It can be discouraging to realize your child may have a learning difference, but the good news is that there are many ways to help your kid reach their full academic potential. Our Specialists can provide evaluations to determine if your child has a diagnosis and counsel you on working with their school to meet their needs.      
	 Click here to find a specialist who can help 
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References:   Dyscalculia Fact Sheet (n.d.).  Understood.  Retrieved from  https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyscalculia/dyscalculia-fact-sheet  Frye, D. (2019). What is Dyscalculia?  ADDitude.  Retrieved from https://www.additudemag.com/what-is-dyscalculia-overview-and-symptom-breakdown/  Hodnett, B.R. (n.d.). 10 Multisensory Techniques for Teaching Math.  Understood.   Retrieved from https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/10-multisensory-techniques-for-teaching-math  How to Help Your Child With Math (n.d.).  Understood.  Retrieved from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/math-issues/how-to-help-your-child-with-math  Jacobson. R. (n.d.). How to Help Kids with Dyscalculia.  Child Mind Institute.  Retrieved from https://childmind.org/article/how-to-help-kids-dyscalculia/  Jacobson, R. (n.d.). How to Spot Dyscalculia.  Child Mind Institute.  Retrieved from https://childmind.org/article/how-to-spot-dyscalculia/  Morin, A. (2014). At a Glance: Classroom Accommodations for Dyscalculia.  Understood.  Retrieved from  https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/at-a-glance-classroom-accommodations-for-dyscalculia  Morin, A. (n.d.). Download: Growth Mindset Activities for Kids.  Understood.  Retrieved from https://www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/empowering-your-child/building-on-strengths/download-growth-mindset-activities-for-kids  Morin, A. (n.d.). How to Talk to Your Child About Learning and Attention Issues.  Understood.  Retrieved from   https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/understanding-childs-challenges/talking-with-your-child/how-to-talk-to-your-child-about-learning-and-attention-issues  Shinn. M.M. (2018). 7 Strategies for Fostering a Growth Mindset in Your Child.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/7-strategies-for-fostering-a-growth-mindset-in-your-child   Shinn. M.M. (2018). ADHD or Just Kids Being Kids?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/adhd-or-just-kids-being-kids   Shinn. M.M. (2018). Does My Child Need Accommodations for the SAT/ACT?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/does-my-child-need-accommodations-for-the-sat-act   Shinn. M.M. (2018). I Can’t Spell Dyslexia – Do I Have It?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/i-cant-spell-dyslexia-do-i-have-it Understanding Dyscalculia (n.d.).  Understood.  Retrieved from  https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyscalculia/understanding-dyscalculia    How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn. M.M. (2019). Why is My Kid Struggling So Hard with Math?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/why-is-my-kid-struggling-so-much-with-math

“Why is my kid struggling so much with math?”

Does your child struggle with learning math concepts? If so, they may have a learning disorder called dyscalculia. Check out this week’s blog to learn signs of dyscalculia and how to support your child’s learning.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Secrets of Successful Step-Families: 10 Tips for Blended Family Bliss   While blended families are incredibly common, the adjustment of merging two households is never easy. About 65% of remarriages include kids , and terms like step-parent, step-sister, or step-brother may not feel warm and fuzzy at first. But with time, understanding, and tact, step-relatives can begin to feel more like “bonus-relatives,” providing an extra source of support, mentorship, and love.   So what can parents do to strengthen the blended -family bond?     1. Consider the kids’ perspective   If your kids are acting hostile,   defiant  , or downright mean, it can be hard to   keep your cool   with them. When you feel frustrated, remember that your kids are experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions as they adjust to their new family. A remarriage emphasizes that there’s no chance of their bio-parents reconciling, and that can be very hard for them to accept. Remember that your kids may feel a mix of sadness, anger, grief, fear, and confusion that will lessen over time.    2. Prepare a parenting plan   Unlike couples who become parents together, those who remarry are often more set in their parenting styles. It’s important to discuss parenting philosophies and get on the same page early on. If your new spouse tends to be stricter than you are, discuss ways that you can meet in the middle. Set a few family rules that you can both agree on. Consequences and rewards may vary a bit if the kids are different ages, but try to keep consistent with enforcing rules and granting privileges for teens and young kids alike.   3. Let discipline wait   As you develop your parenting plan, keep in mind that it’s generally best for step-parents to take a less disciplinary approach for the first year or two. This doesn’t mean they need to be walked all over, but they can keep the other parent informed and allow them to take the lead in enforcing consequences. As your child or teen adjusts to the new family dynamic over time, the step-parent can gradually take on a more authoritative role.     4. Involve your ex if possible   Sometimes it isn’t safe or possible for kids to have relationships with both bio-parents. If it is feasible, your child will probably adjust better if they’re able to maintain a positive relationship with both their parents. Do your best to put aside differences for recitals and sporting events and try to plan visitation schedules in ways that don’t disrupt your child’s schooling, activities, or friendships. If your kid lives with you most of the time, keep the nonresidential parent informed of what’s coming up .  If you are the nonresidential parent, express to your child that even though they don’t live with you,   you are dedicated to supporting them   .     5. Avoid badmouthing bio-parents   Even if your ex acts like a complete four-letter-word, try to take the high road by not speaking badly about them to your kids (but feel free to shamelessly vent about them to your friends!). If you continue to show your ex respect and civility, they’ll be more likely to return the favor down the line. Remember that positive co-parenting is crucial in putting your child’s best interests first. Speaking badly about the other parent can damage your kid’s self-esteem and cause them to resent you.    6. Treat each sibling as special   The more siblings there are, the more mom and dad’s attention becomes divided. This can make kids feel resentful toward their new brothers or sisters. Assure each child that both parents are dedicated to quality time with them. If you share custody, plan family vacations and activities when all of the kids can attend. Keep lines of communication open and make your kids   feel comfortable to talk about their feelings  .     7. Honor all traditions   Kids may resent having to go along with someone else’s traditions, so try to find a middle ground that respects both sides’ practices. For example, if your family always opened gifts on Christmas Eve, and your step-kids are used to doing everything Christmas Day, compromise by opening a few special gifts on the 24th and opening the rest on the 25th. Create new traditions together as well, such as sledding, baking, or volunteering at a toy drive together.     8. Give safe spaces   Merging families means merging space which can make kids feel territorial. For this reason, it’s often ideal to move into a new home where your family can have a fresh start. If that’s not feasible, clear out all drawers, closets, and bedrooms and start dividing up space from scratch so that each family member has a clear idea of what space is theirs. Create a schedule for things that need to be shared such as computers and bathrooms. Remember to praise your kids for sharing and compromising.   9. Nurture your marriage    For the first few years, a lot of your focus will be on helping the kids adjust. This can make your marriage take a backseat. While it’s important to tend to your kids’ feelings,  they’ll benefit from your marriage staying strong and connected. Plan occasional kid-free date nights and make time to talk alone on a regular basis. Celebrate family wins and talk openly about concerns and challenges.    10. Get support   Blended families can take several years to fully adjust, and younger kids  often adapt quicker than older ones. Sometimes, however, it can feel impossible to make your new family feel stable and connected. If you or your spouse is struggling to get along with the kids or if family challenges are straining your marriage, our specialists can help.       
	 Click here to find a specialist who can help 
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment 
with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Bray, J., Ph.D. (n.d.). Making Stepfamilies Work. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stepfamily  DeAngelis, T. (2005, December). Stepfamily success depends on ingredients. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/dec05/stepfamily  Hanson, R. (n.d.). Blended Family Problems. Retrieved from https://family.lovetoknow.com/about-family-values/blended-family-problems  Lingenfelter, K. (2019, July 12). How You Overcame Struggles with Blending Your Family [E-mail interview]. Blended Family with Step Children and Half Siblings  McPhail, K. (2019, July 11). How You Blended Your Family Successfully [E-mail interview]. Blended Family with Children from Previous Marriages  Morin, A., LCSW. (2019, June 24). Solutions to the Biggest Challenges Most Blended Families Overcome. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/biggest-problems-blended-families-face-4150230  Robinson, H. (2019, June 17). A Blended Family United: Tips for Overcoming Issues  Together. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/parenting/divorce/blended-families/navigating-the-challenges-of-blended-families/  Segal, J., Ph.D, & Robinson, L. (2019, June). Blended Family and Step-Parenting Tips.  Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/parenting-family/step-parenting-blended-families.htm  Shinn. M.M. (2019). 8 Tips to Calm Your Kid While Keeping Your Cool. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/8-tips-to-calm-your-kid-while-keeping-your-cool   Shinn. M.M. (2019). My Kid is So Defiant – Is It My Fault? Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/my-kid-is-so-defiant-is-it-my-fault   Shinn. M.M. (2018). 5 Tips for Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/5-tips-for-raising-emotionally-intelligent-children   Shinn. M.M. (2018). Life Success – Is It About Persistence or Following Your Passion? Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/life-success-is-it-about-persistence-or-following-your-passion   
Wong, B. (2017, December 07). 5 Tips For Blended Families Struggling To Keep The Peace. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/blended-family_n_5659647   How to Cite This Blog Article   Shinn. M.M. (2019). Secrets of Successful Step Families: 10 Tips for Blended Family Bliss. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/secrets-of-successful-step-families-10-tips-for-blended-family

Secrets of Successful Step-Families: 10 Tips for Blended Family Bliss

From Cinderella to The Parent Trap, movies often portray second marriages in a negative light. In reality, step-parents & siblings often provide a tremendous source of love, support, and mentorship. Check out this week’s blog to learn 10 tips for achieving blended family bliss.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “My Kid Has a Chronic Illness – How Do I Prepare Them for School?”   Back-to-school can cause a variety of concerns for parents. Will my kid like their teacher? Will they have to deal with bullies? Will they reach their potential? But back-to-school can be particularly worrisome for parents of children with chronic illnesses. Whether your child has diabetes, asthma, seizures, heart problems, allergies, or any other condition, it can be scary to entrust your child’s health to school staff for 6+ hours a day.    So what can parents do to ensure their kid’s health is cared for at school?     1. Learn risk factors   Before considering your child’s needs, it’s important to understand the potential risk factors that chronic illness can present. Chronic illness can contribute to emotional, behavioral, and academic problems including:      Falling behind   from excessive absences      Increased   anxiety   from trying to “catch up”    Fatigue and irritability     Depression    Social isolation    Low-self esteem    Understanding these risks will help you determine the best course of action to guard against them.   2. List their needs   Start listing an inventory of needs that you believe would help your child overcome obstacles and succeed at school. Include your kid in the conversation and ask for their input. Some examples might include:    Being able to leave class without permission when symptoms arise      Accepting late work     Sitting near the door    Receiving support with making friends     Allowing rest breaks as needed    Having summer course options to reduce their school-year class load    Teacher trainings on emergency responses, such as using an EpiPen      Being allowed to complete some schoolwork at home     Regular check-ins with the school counselor     3. Request education support   Set a meeting with the school to discuss your child’s needs and to see if they qualify for   accommodations      through an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan. If classroom accommodations are enough for your child to succeed with the standard curriculum, then a 504 Plan may be the right tool for them. If their condition greatly impairs their learning abilities, they may need an IEP that provides a specially tailored curriculum. A Specialist in Educational Psychology can help you determine which educational resources will work best for your child.  Click below to schedule your free 15-minute consultation with  Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Specialist in Educational Psychology and Special Education Consulting       4. Communicate consistently   Frequent communication with the school will increase the staff’s ability to stay informed of your child’s progress and respond to their challenges. Establish regular check-in meetings to keep the faculty and your family on the same page. Build relationships with teachers, administrators, and the school nurse, so everyone is aware of your child’s unique needs.   5. Support self-management   Prior to your child starting school, you may have done the heavy lifting in tending to their medical needs. Running for the steroid cream each time a hive pops up, grabbing their inhaler when they start to get winded, or calling friends to cancel plans when they look a little pale. Encourage your kid to start taking   responsibility     for their own care before they start school. Teach them how to recognize their symptoms before they get out of hand, administer self-care, and express their needs to teachers.   6. Calculate come-backs   Depending on your child’s condition, they may have medical supplies, such as ostomy bags or glucose meters, that other kids might be curious about. Hopefully your kid won’t be faced with   bullying  ,     but it can be helpful to have them rehearse a few comebacks in case of peers being rude or annoying.    Examples:   “Ew, look at her pricking her finger – what are you, a vampire?”  “Yes actually, but don’t worry – you’re not my type. I’m only into B+.”   “It’s not fair - why do you get to leave class all the time?”  “Because I’m Batman. The world isn’t going to save itself.”    7. Inspire motivation   Chronic pain and symptoms can make it challenging for your kid to focus on schoolwork. Frequently remind your child to think about their goals to help them stay motivated. Ask them about their passions, have them create vision boards, and tell them stories of celebrities who achieved success despite chronic illness, such as Sarah Hyland who has kidney dysplasia, Nick Jonas who has diabetes, or Selena Gomez who has lupus.    Check out our blog on    fostering passion & persistence    in your kid       8. Help them connect   Help your child think through obstacles that hold them back from extracurriculars and time with friends. If their symptoms prevent them from playing football, could they   work   in the ticket booth or concession stand? If they’re too tired to go to afternoon band practice, are there clubs that meet during lunch? If they have to miss school often, can they Facetime their besties after school hours? Helping them maintain connections with peers will reduce their risks for depression and low self-esteem.   9. Consult a Specialist   Taking a chronic illness to school can be tough on both students and their families. Fortunately, your family doesn’t have to face this alone. Our specialists are experienced in helping students overcome obstacles, achieve their potential, and ensure a supportive school environment.        
	 Click here to find a specialist who can help 
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References:   Ball, M.F., Bayliss, D.M., Glauert, R., Harrison, A., Ohan, J.L. (2016). Chronic Illness and Developmental Vulnerability at School Entry.  Pediatrics , 137, 5. Retrieved from https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/137/5/e20152475.full.pdf  Chronic Health Conditions (Students with): The Role of the School Nurse (n.d.).  National Association of School Nurses.  Retrieved from https://www.nasn.org/nasn/advocacy/professional-practice-documents/position-statements/ps-chronic-health  My Child Has a Chronic Illness. What Do I Need to Tell the School? (2014).  American Academy of Pediatrics.  Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chronic/Pages/Chronic-Conditions-and-School.aspx  Schulman-Green, D., Jaser, S., Martin, F., Alonzo, A., Grey, M., McCorkle, R., … Whittemore, R. (2012). Processes of self-management in chronic illness.  Journal of nursing scholarship : an official publication of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing ,  44 (2), 136–144. doi:10.1111/j.1547-5069.2012.01444.x  Shinn. M.M. (2018). 6 Tips to Prepare for Your Teen’s Independence.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/6-tips-to-prepare-for-your-teens-independence   Shinn. M.M. (2019). 10 Tricks for Talking Back and Keeping Safe with Bullies.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/10-tricks-for-talking-back-and-keeping-safe-from-bullies    Shinn. M.M. (2018). Does My Child Need Accommodations on the SAT/ACT?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/does-my-child-need-accommodations-for-the-sat-act   Shinn. M.M. (2018). Life Success – Is It About Persistence or Following Your Passion?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/life-success-is-it-about-persistence-or-following-your-passion   Shinn. M.M. (2019). My Kid Might Be Held Back a Grade – What Do I Do?!  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/my-kid-might-be-held-back-a-grade-what-do-i-do    Shinn. M.M. (2018). Take the Stress Out of Tests! 11 Ways to Manage Test Anxiety.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/take-the-stress-out-of-tests-11-ways-to-manage-test-anxiety   Shinn. M.M. (2018). Should I Let My Teen Get a Job? 10 Things Parents Should Know.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/should-i-let-my-teen-get-a-job-10-things-parents-should-know    When a Kid Has Long-Term Illness: How to Deal with School (2010).  Education.com.  Retrieved from https://www.education.com/magazine/article/Chronic-illness-schools/   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn. M.M. (2019). Taking Chronic Illness to School: 9 Tips to Stay Safe & Healthy.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/my-kid-has-a-chronic-illness-how-do-i-prepare-them-for-school

“My Kid Has a Chronic Illness – How Do I Prepare Them for School?”

From asthma to diabetes and epilepsy to cancer, 1 in 4 children go to school each year with a chronic illness. If your kid has a chronic illness, check out this week’s blog for 9 tips to ensure their health and success as they go back to school.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “Is My Teen Addicted to Video Games?” How to Know and What to Do About It   Since their debut in the early 1970’s, video games have been an iconic form of entertainment. While most people can enjoy gaming as an occasional diversion, a growing number of youth seem to be pushing aside family, friends, and activities to spend more time in front of computer screens. Nicknamed “digital heroin,” video game addiction is a growing concern and has been classified as a mental health disorder by The World Health Organization.   So how do parents know if their child’s fantasy world is starting to take over their real life?     Warning signs of gaming addiction     Gaming 4+ hours a day      Playing for increasing amounts of time    Thinking or talking about gaming during other activities    Quitting other hobbies    Lying to friends or family to conceal gaming    Alienating themselves from family, friends, or romantic interests    Becoming irritable or miserable when they can’t play video games    Neglecting daily responsibilities    Declining academic performance    Showing physical symptoms including dry eyes, carpel tunnel, weight loss or gain, headaches, or back and neck problems    Ignoring personal hygiene    Depression, anxiety, or social phobias     So what can a parent do about it?    If you are concerned your child or teen may have a gaming problem, try these tips:     1. Start a log   Before you talk to your child about your concerns, start documenting their behaviors in a log. Write down how many hours a day you notice them gaming. Also, write down negative consequences you are noticing, such as them skipping out on soccer practice or avoiding family meals. Also, record how they react when they have to stop gaming.   2. Communicate with love   When you talk to your child about your concerns, do so from a place of patience and love. In many cases, children use gaming as a form of relief from feelings of sadness or worry, so being stern or critical may only worsen their negative self-image. Talk to them about their good qualities and the things you love about them – share your log with them and express that you are concerned that their gaming is getting in the way of them living their best life.   3. Organize a detox   Like with any other type of addiction, complete abstinence is necessary for success. This can be a bit tricky since computers are so prevalent in our society, so your child will need to adjust to using computers without gaming. Set boundaries and rules regarding computer use, such as only allowing them to use it for school projects during certain times of day. Remove game consoles, block gaming websites, and keep the computer in a highly visible area in the house for easy monitoring.   4. Prepare to be patient   As your child is detoxing, they may be irritable, mopey, or just downright mean. When they are on your last nerve, walk away and focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Not only will this help you keep your cool, it will model healthy emotional regulation to your child, as opposed to burying emotions with gaming.   5. Make Reality More Exciting   You may think your kid is only interested in high speed pursuits or battling mythical creatures, but the truth is that real life experiences will be much more rewarding to them than any video game could ever be. Get the whole family involved in more physical activities – hikes, backyard baseball, or activities with other families. If they are old enough, encourage them to get a part-time job to boost their self-worth. Activities, hobbies, and responsibilities can both boost their mood and distract them from the lure of gaming.   6. Use a reward system   It can be hard for gamers to see why their addiction is a bad thing. A reward system can incentivize them to stick with their detox, even if they don’t fully agree with it. Try using a points system by giving them “10 points” for every day they go without gaming and have them lose 20 points each day that they cave in and play video games. Let them know that when they reach 1000 points, they get to go to an amusement park, have a sleepover party, or some other fun activity.   7. Seek support   Addictions of all types are complex and challenging to overcome, but there is hope. A qualified specialist can help your child address underlying mental health issues that may have led to their addiction. They can teach self-control techniques and tools to help your child find happiness and self-esteem away from the computer screen.       
	 Click here to find a specialist who can help 
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Online Article: Video Game Addiction No fun - Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD    	Keith Bakker, certified interventionist; and director, Smith &   Jones Addiction Consultants. Kimberly Young, PsyD, clinical director, Center   for On-Line Addiction; professor of psychology, St. Bonaventure University;   and author,     Caught in the Net: How to Recognize the Signs of Internet   Addiction -- and a Winning Strategy for Recovery. WebMD Feature:     Internet to Sex: Defining Addiction. Howard, project manager, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.,   Center for On-Line Addiction: "Are You an Obsessive Online Gamer?" and   "Frequently Asked Questions About Internet Addiction."

“Is My Teen Addicted to Video Games?” How to Know and What to Do About It

Most people can enjoy video games as an occasional hobby, but what happens when the fantasy world starts to become more appealing than reality? Check out this week’s blog to learn how to identify and prevent video game addiction in children and teens.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “How Do I Keep My Kids Entertained All Summer?”   Ahhh summer… the freedom, the sunshine, the world of opportunity. The kids look forward to it all year.   Notice we said “the kids.”   Parents on the other hand, tend to be a little wary of the school-free season. While all parents love spending time with their children, summer means 3 whole months without the time consumption and mental stimulation that school provides. It means having to come up with activities for the kids yourself, which often translates to spending a lot more money. If both parents work, it can also mean having to find reliable child care and camps that aren’t exactly in the budget. So what’s a parent to do?   First of all – relax! That’s what summer is for   Many parents go into summer concerned that their child will be bored out of their minds. Research suggests, however, that constructive boredom is not only healthy, but essential for a child to develop their creativity, discover their personal identity, and explore ways to foster their own mental stimulation. If parents are always doing the heavy lifting in filling their child’s time, their child gets robbed of the opportunity to contemplate their own thoughts and interests and explore new ideas.   Here are 9 tips for giving your child a fun and stimulating summer, without scheduling every second:    1. Brainstorm beforehand   Foster your child’s creativity by having them make a list of things they would like to do over the summer. While they may choose a few unrealistic items such as riding a dragon or traveling to Hong Kong, their list will probably include many attainable goals such as going on hikes, having a picnic, or running through the sprinklers. When they complain of boredom over the summer, tell them to revisit their list for ideas to fill their time.   2. Structure Unstructure   By now most of us have heard of the damage that excessive screen time can pose to children. Too much TV or video game consumption can contribute to obesity, low self-esteem, social disorders, and decreased academic performance. When your kids are home all summer, it’s easy to let them binge watch cartoons when you need them out of your hair so you can clean the house or pay the bills. Remind yourself to limit screen time by establishing a few hours every day that will be used for “unstructured play.” Let the kids know that after lunch, they’re on their own until 3 PM – no gadgets allowed!   3. Let them make a mess   This tends to be a tough one for many moms, and it’s understandable. Keeping a halfway clean home takes daily diligence, and having kids can feel like there are tiny tornadoes spinning around behind you every time you tidy up. In the summer, try to stretch your patience toward the mess-making. You can set boundaries, like limiting messy projects to the tiled kitchen and away from your off-white rug, but let them do some experimental baking, indulge in some glue-heavy art projects, or create a mad scientist’s laboratory. Giving them the freedom to make messes will encourage innovative ideas.   4. Make summer about self-reliance   Since the 1960’s, American schools have shifted away from teaching basic life skills to focusing almost exclusively on academics. The additional time with your kids in the summer is a great opportunity to teach them what they aren’t getting in the classroom. Have them plan and prepare meals with you, teach them how to do laundry, have them create a savings plan for the new gadget they’ve been wanting, or teach them how to safely refuel a vehicle at the gas station. Summer is a perfect time to foster your child’s sense of self-reliance.   5. Commit to learning a new skill   A wonderful aspect of summer is that it gives kids time to pursue ideas and activities that they feel inspired to chase. As the school year comes to an end, ask your child to pick one new thing they want to learn over the summer. Even if they say something like, “Kung Fu,” you don’t need to invest in expensive lessons. Watch online tutorials a few times a week to empower them with some basic skills. Letting your child take the lead in what they pursue will excite them about learning and help their brain to “decompress” from the constant frontal lobe focus during the academic year. Don’t forget to choose something for you to learn over the summer as well! This will model creativity, persistence, and the importance of life-long learning.   6. Reduce the dreaded “brain-drain”   Many parents fear that summer will drain their child’s brain of everything they learned the prior school year and make it difficult for them to adjust in the fall. While a small regression is not the end of the world, it can be helpful to maintain some academic activity over the summer. Buy a grade level workbook for them or invest in some occasional tutoring in a subject they’ve struggled with. Just be conscious not to burden them with too many textbook obligations over the summer – they have the school year for that! Remember that there are academic benefits to recreational activities as well. Swimming, for example, is not only a fun total body workout but also a science in understanding the different ways our bodies are able to stay afloat.   7. No cost, no screens, no problem!   It can feel like there aren’t many options for summer fun that don’t break the bank. While there’s nothing wrong with splurging on an occasional trip to the zoo or amusement park, don’t feel guilty if most of your summer days are a bit simpler. Encourage your child to use their imagination by turning their favorite book into a play, making a “pretend” carnival in the backyard with a ticket booth and concession stand, or take on a family project like planting a garden or repainting a fence.   8. Find ways to help others   Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders, and summertime is a great opportunity to engage your children in looking outside of themselves and into the community. Look into different volunteer opportunities – drive meals to seniors as a family, bring care packages to terminally ill children in the hospital, or join a pen-pal program with orphans in third world countries. Volunteer activities will foster compassion in your child and add meaningful memories to summer that go beyond having fun.   9. Join the fun   During the school year, parents don’t get to participate in many of the fun and explorative activities their kids experience in school. Take advantage of this time by making sure to set time every day to act like a kid. Squeeze into that blanket fort, believe that the floor really is lava, and give an Oscar worthy performance as the villain in their puppet show. The memories you will share with your children will be worth far more than anything money can buy.   Variations can help   If you would like additional support in learning ways to stimulate your child’s mind and foster their creativity, Variations can help.       
	 Click here to find a specialist who can help 
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).   See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Biddle SJH, Asare M Physical activity and mental health in children and adolescents: a review of reviews  British Journal of Sports Medicine  Published Online First: 01 August 2011. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2011-090185   Gasper, K. & Middlewood, B.L. (2013) Approaching novel thoughts: Understanding why elation and boredom promote associative thought more than distress and relaxation. Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, USA   The Benefits of Boredom. Melboune Child Psychology. Retrieved Online. https://www.melbournechildpsychology.com.au/blog/the-benefits-of-boredom/  Tremblay, M.S., LeBlanc, A.G., Kho, M.E., Saunders, T.J., Larouche, R., Colley, R.C., Goldfield, G., Gorber, S.C. Systematic review of sedentary behaviour and health indicators in school-aged children and youth (2011) International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 20118:98 https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-8-98   Wahi G, Parkin PC, Beyene J, Uleryk EM, Birken CS. Effectiveness of Interventions Aimed at Reducing Screen Time in ChildrenA Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.  Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med.  2011;165(11):979–986. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.122

“How Do I Keep My Kids Entertained All Summer?”

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