Cynthia R. Johnson LMFT

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      7 Ways a Loved One’s Illness Affects the Whole Family      A person’s quality of life tends to be similar to those around them - when someone you love develops a serious illness, the negative impact on the patient’s life can also influence the rest of the family’s well-being. While it’s critical that family members support their sick loved one, it’s equally important to be aware of obstacles that illness can impose on the whole family. By understanding the challenges that may arise, your family will be better prepared to work through them and support your sick loved one as a strong, united front.    So what kind of problems do family members face when a loved one becomes ill? If you have a sick loved one, here are 7 challenges your family may need to work through:     1. Emotional upheaval     Watching someone you love struggle with illness is painful, making many family members feel a sense of helplessness or loss of control. Emotions impact each person to different extents, but it’s normal to feel any or all of the following emotions:      Guilt    Anger    Fear    Frustration    Embarrassment    Despair      Click here to uncover the 6 stealthy disguises of depression in men       2. Function disruption     Each family member fills certain roles in their household, allowing the family to function like clockwork (well, maybe not like clockwork – we’ve all left a sink full of dishes overnight or forgotten to pay a bill!). But when one family member becomes too ill to function, it can feel like the family structure has gone completely off the rails. The rest of the family feels pressure to fill the roles of the patient, and trying to absorb another person’s responsibilities can feel overwhelming.      3. Body burn-out      Driving your family member to medical appointments, preparing special meals, picking up prescriptions, and being too stressed to sleep can make you feel like your body’s tank is constantly running on empty. Neglecting your own appointments, feeling exhausted, having gastrointestinal issues, and developing body aches are common symptoms of caregiver stress.      Experiencing caregiver-stress? Click here        4. Rocky relationships      Each family member deals with a variety of complex emotions, and it can be hard for them to understand one another. Some may feel anger from being burdened with most of the caregiving, while others might feel neglected as the patient gets most of the family’s attention. Poor communication can cause tension and arguments between family members; in turn, strained relationships make it harder for the patient to remain positive and hopeful as they cope with their illness.      5. Work and school slip-ups     A person’s illness can be very disruptive to their family’s professional and academic lives. If dad is in the hospital, he can’t help his kids with their math homework. If mom has to drop everything to respond to grandma’s health emergencies, she may miss important meetings or deadlines. Focusing on completing work or school assignments is difficult when family members are worried about their loved one’s health.   Worried about how a loved one’s illness is impacting your child in school?      


   
     
      
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      6. Financial fall-out      The financial implications of a family member’s illness often present a tremendous burden. If the patient was normally the family’s main bread-winner, the rest of the family has to quickly adjust to life without their regular income. If the patient is a child, one or more parents may need to take a leave from work and disability income is often less than their standard pay. Costs of treatments, transportation, medication, and hiring caregivers can quickly mount into unmanageable expenses, adding to the family’s stress.      7. Social struggles     Meeting the constant needs of severely sick loved ones can leave little time for hobbies and social activities. If medical bills are stacking up, you may not have much cash left to watch a pay-per-view fight with the guys or get your roots touched up at the salon. The emotional impact of a family member’s illness can also make it difficult to have fun and connect with friends, as many people fear coming off as a “downer” when they talk about what’s going on.    Need someone to talk to? Click here to learn more about our specialists          8. Need for support      All of these challenges are significant and should not be taken lightly; the good news is, your family doesn’t have to face them alone, and there are ways to leverage these obstacles to strengthen your family rather than tear it apart. With the right support, your family can maintain a healthy quality of life while tending to the needs of your sick loved one.    Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D.  specializes in supporting teenage boys through life’s transitions. If you are a man or teenage boy struggling with a family member’s illness, Dr. Sample can provide a safe place to work through your challenges.          
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       Dr. Elsa Torres, Psy.D.,  is an expert in diagnostic testing and counseling and is experienced in helping families strengthen their relationships and improve their quality of life. If your family is being affected by a loved one’s illness, Dr. Torres can support you in coping with challenges and finding happiness.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Torres 
       Cynthia R. Johnson, LMFT,  is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. If you are concerned with the impact of a loved one’s illness on your family, Cynthia can provide tools to support each individual in maintaining health and happiness.   Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. If you worry that a family member’s illness has had a negative impact on your child, Dr. Shinn can provide diagnostic testing and recommend support for your child’s unique needs.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       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:   Golics, C. J., Basra, M. K., Salek, M. S., & Finlay, A. Y. (2013). The impact of patients' chronic disease on family quality of life: an experience from 26 specialties.  International journal of general medicine ,  6 , 787-98. doi:10.2147/IJGM.S45156  How Chronic Illness or Disability Affects a Family (2014).  Healthychildren.org . Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chronic/Pages/How%20Chronic-Illness-Affects-the-Family.aspx  Shinn, M.M. (2018). How to Care for Aging Parents while Raising a Family: 8 Tips for the Sandwich Generation.   Psychologically Speaking . [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from   https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/how-to-care-for-aging-parents-while-raising-a-family-8-tips-for-the-sandwich-generation    Shinn, M.M. (2018). Stealth Depression in Men: Unmasking its 6 Disguises.  Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from   https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/stealth-depression-in-men-unmasking-its-6-disguises    Wittenberg, E., Saada, A., & Prosser, L. A. (2013). How illness affects family members: a qualitative interview survey.  The patient ,  6 (4), 257-68.    How to Cite This Blog Article:    Shinn. M.M. (2019). 7 Ways a Loved One’s Illness Affects the Whole Family.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/test-blog/7-ways-a-loved-ones-illness-affects-the-whole-family

7 Ways a Loved One’s Illness Affects the Whole Family

Are you struggling with a family member’s chronic illness? Check out this week’s blog to learn how a loved one’s illness impacts the whole family and how our specialists can help.  

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Get Moving! 10 Reasons to Engage Your Kids in Active Play     Today’s kids are spending more time indoors and less time riding bikes, scraping knees, and making mischief with friends. Many parents question whether it’s really a big deal if their kids spend hours in front of screens. However, our nation’s decrease in exercise is causing some serious damage to kids’ physical and mental health. With roughly 1 in 3 American kids being overweight, it’s critical that parents get their children moving. So why is active play so crucial for your child, and how can parents fit play into their busy lives?    Here are 10 reasons active play should be a top priority in your child’s life:     1. Academic potential skyrockets     Parents go to great lengths to enhance their children’s learning – springing for expensive tutors, brainy toys, or private school tuitions to give their kids the best opportunities. However, simply taking active breaks after every 3 hours of learning can give a serious boost to your child’s retention. Kids who are given a chance to be active have higher attention spans and are 20% more likely to get an A+ in math or English – now that’s something to get moving for!    For more tips on supporting children with learning and attention challenges, click here       Did you know that exercise reduces your child’s risk of behavioral problems? Active play has been associated with:      Reducing bullying by 43%    Dropping discipline referrals by 57%    Reducing depression and anxiety    Improving mood and self-esteem     Decreasing aggression      Have a defiant kid? Click here       3, You don’t have to get fancy     While many parents enroll their kids in structured sports like gymnastics or soccer, paying for more than a few activities can quickly drain your wallet and make you feel like a full-time chauffeur. The good news is, active play doesn’t require fancy equipment or formal training. Dancing around while dinner cooks, walking the dog, playing hopscotch, or chasing bubbles are just a few simple ways to get moving with your kids.      4. Active play is for everyone     Parents of children with special needs or learning differences may wonder if active play will contribute to hyperactivity. However, research shows physical activity has the opposite effect. Exercise has been shown to promote calm, focus, and structure in children. Allowing your kid to burn energy throughout the day will also improve their sleep – something all parents can appreciate     5. It supports them socially     When your child is allowed to play freely with friends, it naturally boosts their social skills and emotional intelligence. Play fosters friendships, gives opportunities for conflict resolution, teaches sharing, promotes emotional regulation, and provides children with a sense of belonging.     For more tips on boosting your child’s emotional intelligence, click here     6. Health benefits last a lifetime     Obesity is a serious health concern that increases a person’s risk for diabetes, stroke, hypertension, heart disease, gallbladder disease, cancer, sleep apnea, and death. Active play is one of the best ways to prevent these life-threatening conditions in your child. By engaging in regular exercise, your child will:      Develop strong bones, muscles, and joints    Be 41% less likely to become overweight    Be at reduced risk for chronic illnesses associated with obesity    Be sick less often and require fewer school nurse visits     7. You can be a great role model     Your children look up to you as an example of how active they should be. When parents lead an active lifestyle, physical play becomes second nature for their kids. This doesn’t mean you need to force yourself to be the next Serena Williams or Cristiano Ronaldo; if you don’t like doing structured workouts, find activities that are fun and make you forget you’re exercising such as nature hikes or swimming.      8. The 60/60 rule works     Experts recommend that kids get 2 hours of daily physical activity to get the most out of play – one hour of free, unstructured play, and another hour of adult-led play. However, life’s demands can make it hard for parents to play for a full hour at a time. Here are a few tips for getting your kid’s “play quota” in each week:      Enroll them in organized team sports – these are usually about an hour long    Advocate at their school district for daily PE of at least 30 minutes    Fit play into smaller segments throughout the day, taking 10-minute breaks to walk, run, or jump rope every few hours     Feel like taking a 3-minute active break right now? Grab your kids and “play in place” with this awesomely active song!        

 
 
    

 
 
      9. PRIDE promotes play     Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) identifies the following five techniques called PRIDE skills that parents can use to make play a positive and engaging experience:      P RAISE – Compliment your child for positive behaviors.     Example:  “Great job throwing the ball!”    R EFLECTION – Repeat back what your child tells you.     Example:  “You’re right, you got it in the basket!”    I MITATION – Copy what your child does to enforce positive behaviors.     Example:  “I’m going to do the same stretches you are doing.”     D ESCRIPTION – Describe what your child is doing to boost their language and communication skills.     Example:  “You’re hopping on your left foot!”    E NJOYMENT – Express fun and enthusiasm as you play with your child.     Example:  “This is so much fun! Come dance with me!”     Dads - check out our PRIDE of Fatherhood blog       10. A Specialist can help      Play has the power to boost your child’s intellectual, emotional, and physical development, but it can be hard for parents to know how to unlock that potential. A Play Specialist can empower you to connect with your child through play, improving their health and making the most out of physical activity.      


   
     
      
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      Dr. Daniella A. Davis, Psy.D. ,  is an expert in dealing with the unique challenges that women face throughout each stage of life. If you wish your family led a healthier lifestyle but don’t know where to start, Dr Davis can support you on a clear path toward reaching your goals.        
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Davis 
       Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D.  specializes in supporting teenage boys through life’s transitions. If you are looking for ways to help your teenage son develop a more active lifestyle, Dr. Sample can help.         
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. If you are concerned that a lack of active play has been impacting your child’s development, Dr. Shinn can provide diagnostic testing and recommend support for your child’s unique needs.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       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:   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). Childhood Obesity Facts. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html  Common Sense Media (2015). The Common Sense Census: Media Used by Tweens and Teens. Retrieved from: http://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2017/images/11/07/commonsensecensus.mediausebytweensandteens.2015.final.pdf  Shinn. M.M. (2019). 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. (2019). 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. (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). The P.R.I.D.E. of Fatherhood.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from:   https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/the-pride-of-fatherhood-5-ways-that-great-dads-shape-our-mental-health    Shinn, M., Turner, A., Taylor Lucas, C. (2016). Play in Place. Presentation.  Child Guidance Center, Children & Families Commission of Orange County, & UC Irvine .   Taylor Lucas, C. E., Shinn, M. M., & Turner, A. C., (2015). Play in place. Unpublished recording. Redondo Beach, California: Mike Irwin Studios  Turner, A. C., (2013). Active play every day: A manual for facilitating active play with young children. Unpublished manuscript.    How to Cite This Blog Article:    Shinn. M.M. (2019). Get Moving! 10 Reasons to Engage Your Kids in Active Play.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/test-blog/get-moving-10-reasons-to-engage-your-kids-in-active-play

Get Moving! 10 Reasons to Engage Your Kids in Active Play

With childhood obesity being a serious health concern, it’s critical that parents make active play a daily priority for their kids. Check out this week’s blog for 10 ways that active play improves your child’s physical, mental, and emotional health.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “How do I Love Me? Let me Count the Ways”  10 Tips for Self-Love this Valentine’s day      Valentine’s Day makes us think of adoring bonds between happy couples, which is certainly something to celebrate. But this V-day, we’d like to challenge you to make another type of affection a priority: self-love. Self-love is not self-centered or narcissistic; it’s about valuing yourself in a way that supports your health, relationships, and emotional well-being. Most people understand the importance of showing love to the people they care about, yet many of us tend to put our own feelings on the back-burner.      But there’s more to self-love than just treating yourself to the occasional spa day or night out with the guys. So what can people do to start truly loving themselves more?    1. Understand it’s importance    Self-love influences who a person picks for relationships, impacts the image they project at work, affects how they cope with challenges in life, and supports their mental and physical health. Loving yourself also provides a positive example for children and teens to understand the importance of self-care.     2. Know it’s not narcissism     Some worry that self-love is vain or narcissistic, but there’s a difference between caring for your well-being and thinking you’re superior to others. Narcissism is a delusional sense of superiority that is characterized by being blinded to one’s flaws. Self-love is about accepting yourself for both your positive traits and flaws while valuing yourself for exactly who you are.      3. Treat yourself as you would others     It’s ironic that we say, “treat others as you would have them treat you,” when we’re usually less critical of others than ourselves! Next time you’re being hard on yourself, think of whether you would be so harsh in judging your friend, neighbor, parent, or child for the same shortcoming. Treat yourself with the same grace and acceptance you offer to loved ones when they are less than perfect.      4. Accept your humanity     Remember that you are only human and making mistakes is part of the human experience. A self-loving person recognizes that being human includes making the occasional error or lapse in judgment. The important thing is seeing yourself for more than your shortcomings and using your experience to grow moving forward.     5. Quit comparing yourself     Stop measuring yourself up to others who are wealthier, wittier, or better looking. Remember that people only publicly share the highlights of their lives and tend to gloss over their challenges and shortcomings. When you compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel, you’ll focus on your flaws and falsely believe that they are worse than everyone else’s.    Check out our blog on how to stop comparing yourself on social media     6. Make life mindful     People who love themselves tend to be aware of what they think, feel, and desire. They make decisions based on self-awareness rather than relying on what other people want for them. Practicing mindfulness is a great way to become more attuned to your true self. Be mindful by reflecting on your feelings without judgment. Practice deep breathing and stay focused on the present moment; when your mind starts to dwell on the past or get anxious about the future, redirect your focus to the sensations of the present.      7. Ritualize self-care     Caring for your basic needs is a great way to show yourself love every day. Make it a daily ritual to nourish yourself through healthy activities such as exercise, sound nutrition, proper sleep, intimacy, and fun time with friends. Keep your scheduled appointments for physicals, dental screenings, and mental health support.      


   
     
      
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      8. Believe in boundaries     Part of self-love is knowing not to try to be everything for everybody. People who struggle with self-love often fear the repercussions of saying no to requests, but the truth is people respect those who know how to set healthy boundaries. Don’t be afraid to say no to tasks or activities that make you feel emotionally depleted.     Click here for our women’s guide to stop people-pleasing     9. Detox your circle     Sometimes your loved ones struggle with their own self-love and may act in ways that make you feel bad about yourself or drag you down. If someone in your life is damaging to your self-image, it’s ok to love them from a distance and limit communication with them. Just as you would want to protect a loved one from harmful influences, remember to protect yourself against toxic or abusive relationships.      10. Surround yourself with support     Positive energy is contagious, so it’s important to surround yourself with people who support you and love you for who you are. Sometimes, however, we need a little extra support outside of our circle of friends. If you are struggling with self-love and making your needs a priority in life, our specialists can help.    Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D.  specializes in supporting men and teenage boys through life’s transitions. If you are a man who struggles with self-esteem, Dr. Sample can provide you with tools to overcome obstacles and lead a fulfilling life.         
	 Learn moreClick here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       Dr. Daniella A. Davis, Psy.D.,  is an expert in dealing with the unique challenges that women face throughout each stage of life. If you are a woman struggling to love yourself for who you are, Dr. Davis can support you discovering your self-worth and finding ways to practice self-care.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Davis. 
       Cynthia R. Johnson, LMFT,  is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. If you have a family member that struggles with self-love, Cynthia can provide strategies to increase self-esteem and strengthen your family.      
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia 
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. Dr. Shinn can provide diagnostic testing and recommend support for children or adults who struggle with self-esteem challenges.        
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       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:   Attention students and ECPs: Self-care is an 'ethical imperative'. (2011, October).   Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/10/self-care.aspx   Greenberg, M., Ph.D. (2017, June 29). 8 Powerful Steps to Self-Love. Retrieved   From https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201706/8-powerful-steps-self-love?amp  Khoshaba, Psy.D, D. (2012, March 27). A Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love.   Retrieved from https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/get-hardy/201203/seven-step-prescription-self-love?amp  Shinn. M.M. (2019). Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who’s Most #liked of them all?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from:   https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall-whos-the-most-liked-of-them-all     Shinn. M.M. (2019). “Why Can’t I Say No?!” The Women’s Holiday Guide to Stop People-Pleasing.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from:   https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/the-womans-holiday-guide-to-stop-people-pleasing      How to Cite This Blog Article:    Shinn. M.M. (2019). “How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways”. 9 Tips for Self-Love this Valentine’s Day.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from

“How do I Love Me? Let me Count the Ways”
10 Tips for Self-Love this Valentine’s day

“How do I love me? Let me count the ways!”

One way to practice self-love is to stop comparing your behind-the-scenes life to someone else’s highlight reel.

Whether or not you’re in a relationship, check out this week’s blog to make sure you are doing what it takes to love yourself this Valentine’s Day!

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “My Teen is Dating – What Do I Do?”   Having your teen enter the world of dating can cause anxiety for any parent. A dad’s instinct may be to think of ways to scare off his teen’s date, while a mom may want to grab binoculars and spy in the bushes. Though protecting your kids is important, open and nonjudgmental communication is the best tool to support your teen in making good dating decisions. With the right approach, parents have the power to help teens stick to their values, keep realistic expectations, and manage the highs and lows of dating.     So what can parents do to support teens as they date?     1. Focus on the purpose   Ask your teen what they believe the purpose of dating is. When teens go into dating with a clear understanding of its objective, they are more likely to make rational decisions and avoid negative situations. Remind them that dating is about developing their relationship skills as well as getting to know what they want and need in a partner. If they date simply to fit in or to fill their craving for intimacy, they will likely be disappointed.     2. Discuss what healthy looks like   When parents talk to teens about dating, they often focus on rules such as, “No being out past 10,” or, “no drinking and driving.” An additional priority should be to talk to your teen about what healthy relationships look like. Remind them of the characteristics of supportive and long-lasting relationships including:      Trust    Mutual understanding    Communication    Respect    Honesty    Faithfulness    Praise    Maintaining interests outside of one another     3. Help them recognize abuse      Teach your teen the warning signs of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse such as:    Isolating them from friends and family    Insulting, degrading, or intimidating them    Cheating    Showing intimate pictures or “sexts” to others    “Gas-lighting” (when an abuser gets called out for their abuse and turns it around on the other person to make them think they’re crazy)    Hitting, kicking, grabbing, pushing, or biting    Stalking or constantly monitoring them    Guilting or coercing into sex or other acts     4. Build up boundaries   Encourage your teen to determine the behaviors that they’ll refuse to accept in relationships. Remind them to explain their boundaries to their date in the beginning so that expectations are clear from the get-go. It can be helpful to define boundaries in the following categories:     Emotional  – Example: “If my date calls me insulting names, that is crossing my boundary.”   Physical  – Example: “If my date puts their hands on me in anger, that is crossing my boundary.”   Digital  – Example: “If my date asks me to Snapchat sexual photos, that is crossing my boundary.”    Moms – if you need help taking your own advice on healthy boundary-setting, check out our women’s guide to stop people-pleasing       5. Play it positive    Although you want to teach your teen the warning signs of unhealthy relationships, make sure you approach this milestone with a positive attitude. Don’t speak about it with dread or express disdain for their date; that will only drive your kid away from you. Tell your teen you’re excited for them to experience this new aspect of life and that you trust them to make the right choices. Show interest in learning more about their date and the good qualities your teen sees in them.      6. Rely on respect   When you’re talking to your teen about dating, make sure to keep a calm and respectful tone. If they feel you respect their individuality and opinions, they will be more likely to return the same respect to you. Even if you’re met with sighs and eye rolls, try to keep your cool and trust that your teen will hear what you have to say. Make sure to ask your teen’s point of view as well and listen with empathy and understanding.     For more tips on being an emotionally intelligent parent,    click here      7. Don’t steer away from sex   It may be tempting to avoid discussing sex with your teen, but remember that if you don’t give them the sex talk, their locker room buddies will. Regardless of your family values, don’t make your teen feel bad or abnormal for having natural sexual feelings. Express that these feelings are a normal part of maturing into an adult, but there are values that you expect them to adhere to. Think through your values and clearly explain them to your teen. It’s also important to talk to them about what others might do so they know ways to respond if they are met with unwanted advances.      8. Trust the job you’ve done   After you’ve said your piece, take off your private investigator hat and hang the binoculars back in the closet. You’ve spent more than a decade preparing your child for this milestone, teaching them right from wrong, empowering their self-esteem, and establishing boundaries for their behaviors. Trust that your lessons have prepared them to be resilient through the good and bad aspects of teen dating.      9. Know when to intervene    The ups and downs of dating can be incredibly positive in shaping your teen’s identity, building their emotional intelligence, and preparing them for adult relationships. However, it’s not uncommon for teens to enter unhealthy or abusive relationships. If you’re concerned that your teen is in a dangerous relationship, or if you’re just unsure how to talk with your teen about dating, our specialists can help.     Cynthia R. Johnson, LMFT, is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. Cynthia can strengthen your family’s communication while empowering your teen to make healthy, positive choices.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia R. Johnson 
       Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D.  specializes in supporting teen boys through life’s transitions. If your teenage son is having any challenges related to dating, Dr. Sample can provide a comfortable place for him to overcome obstacles and develop healthy relationships.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. sample 
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. If you are concerned about your teen’s mental or emotional health, Dr. Shinn can provide diagnostic testing and recommend support to meet your teen’s needs.        
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       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:   Center for Disease Control (2018). Understanding Teen Dating Violence. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/teen-dating-violence-2014-a.pdf  GoodTherapy.org. 9 Tips for Talking to Teens About Dating and Relationships. Retrieved from: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/9-tips-for-talking-to-teens-about-dating-and-relationships-0227157  Mayo Clinic (2017). Sex Education: Talking to Your Teens About Sex. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/sexual-health/in-depth/sex-education/art-20044034  Shinn. M.M. (2018). “Why Can’t I Say No?” The Women’s Guide to Stop People-Pleasing.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/the-womans-holiday-guide-to-stop-people-pleasing  Shinn. M.M. (2018). “Am I an Emotionally Intelligent Parent?” 6 Tips for Moms & Dads to Boost Their EQ.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/am-i-an-emotionally-intelligent-parent-6-tips-for-moms-dads-to-boost-their-eq  Whyte, A. (2018). Parents: How to Help Your Teen Set Healthy Dating Boundaries.  Evolve Treatment Centers . Retrieved online: https://evolvetreatment.com/blog/parents-how-to-help-your-teen-set-healthy-dating-boundaries/    How to Cite This Blog Article:    Shinn. M.M. (2019). “My Teen is Dating – What Do I Do?”  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from:https://www.variationspsychology.com/test-blog/my-teen-is-dating-what-do-i-do

“My Teen is Dating – What Do I Do?”

“My Teen is Dating – What Do I Do?!” Before you hire a private investigator and start stalking your teen’s every move, check out this week’s blog to support your teen through this exciting (yet slightly nerve-wracking) milestone.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “Could My Dad have Undiagnosed Autism?”    Maybe there’s always been something a little off with your dad that you haven’t been able to put your finger on. Perhaps he has trouble making friends or has some unusual routines that you’ve never quite understood. Until recent decades, people thought autism only looked like the severe cases seen in movies like “Rain Man.” Today, we know that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can display a variety of mild to severe symptoms. This growing knowledge of ASD has many people wondering if their dad’s unique traits could be signs of undiagnosed autism.    But how can you know if your dad is on the spectrum? And if he’s gone his whole life undiagnosed, should you encourage him to find out?   If you think your dad might have undiagnosed autism, here are some things you should know:    1. There’s a  lost generation   Autism wasn’t widely recognized until the 1980’s, so countless kids with autism were misdiagnosed or completely overlooked in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and 70’s. In recent years, many adults have only realized they have ASD when one of their children has been diagnosed. The tragedy of this lost generation is that these individuals did not receive the support growing up that we now know drastically improves the quality of life for children and adults with autism.      2. There’s no “typical” autism   There’s a saying that if you know one person with autism, then you know one person with autism. No two people have identical symptoms, and if your dad has autism he will likely exhibit some symptoms and not others. Common symptoms include:      Trouble making friends or being “socially awkward”    Difficulty expressing emotion     Making involuntary sounds like clearing throat or humming    Sticking to strict routines and getting upset when they are disrupted    Having repetitive rituals (sometimes autism is misdiagnosed as OCD)    Underdeveloped motor skills (e.g. - poor penmanship or clumsiness)    Fixating on particular interests such as a sports team or astronomy    Having amazing memories    Making honest observations (even if they are inappropriate!)    Being highly intelligent     Being unable to understand body language    Avoiding eye contact     Disliking loud noise or busy environments    Preferring not to be physically touched    Speaking loudly without realizing it    Invading others’ personal space without meaning to    Preferring the company of kids or animals to people their own age      3. Your dad is not defective   People with autism are not broken; they just don’t respond to visual and verbal cues the same way mainstream society does. Having autism in a neurotypical world is sort of like being dropped off in a foreign country with radically different customs than you’re used to; yes, you can get by, but you’ll have trouble fitting in until you learn how to interact in ways the locals understand. In turn, the more society learns about ASD, the more schools, employers, and families can support the success and well-being of people with autism.      4. The spectrum has its perks   Many people with ASD reject the idea that autism needs to be “cured” but rather that society should embrace the unique gifts that individuals with autism bring to the table. People with ASD tend to be honest, loyal, nonjudgmental, passionate, intelligent, nonmaterialistic, and have a great sense of humor. They also tend to be better at living in the present than their ever-distracted neurotypical neighbors. Many also have outstanding talents that go beyond the average person’s capabilities.      5. Accommodations are everything   People with undiagnosed autism spend their entire lives trying to decode how to speak and act in socially acceptable ways. But when a diagnosis is made, adjustments can be made to make work, religious, and family life much more supportive of how individuals with autism think and interact. With accommodations such as mentors, calm workspaces, clear instructions, extended deadlines, additional breaks, and predictable schedules, people with autism can find success and fulfillment in all aspects of life.    Click here to check out our blog on securing accommodations for post graduate career exams     6. A diagnosis can be healing   Today, one in 59 children are diagnosed with autism. It’s impossible to gauge how many kids from previous generations had autism but remained under the radar. As an adult, a diagnosis can help your dad gain clarity on why certain things in life have been difficult for him. Understanding ASD can boost his self-confidence and empower him to embrace his unique gifts and traits. What’s more, there are communities of adults with ASD who he can connect with to build relationships and gain the support he never had growing up.       7. Breaking the news brings risks   So you’ve read the blog and are convinced your dad has autism: now the million dollar question becomes whether or not you should tell him. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. While a diagnosis could be liberating, he may not be receptive to hearing your hunch. He’s spent his entire life learning how to cope with his differences, and finding out that he’s had a lifelong diagnosis may feel painful and confusing. A mental health specialist can help you determine whether the pros of understanding his symptoms and potentially seeking support could outweigh the risk of hurting his feelings or creating tension in your relationship.      


   
     
      
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      8. You deserve support   As you consider your dad’s emotional needs, make sure you don’t neglect your own. You may also be carrying pain and confusion from growing up with a parent on the spectrum. Perhaps you’ve always felt emotionally disconnected from your dad or maybe you’ve felt a parent-child role reversal as you’ve tried to help him cope with his symptoms. A mental health specialist who understands the impact of having a parent on the autism spectrum can help you work through these challenges.   Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D.  specializes in supporting men and teenage boys through life’s transitions. If you are a man who is concerned that your dad may have undiagnosed autism, Dr. Sample can provide you with tools to support both yourself and your father.         
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       Dr. Daniella A. Davis, Psy.D.,  is an expert in dealing with the unique challenges that women face throughout each stage of life. If you are a woman concerned that your father or husband may have undiagnosed autism, Dr. Davis can support you in determining the next steps to support your loved one.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Davis. 
       Cynthia R. Johnson, LMFT,  is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. If you are concerned with how a family member’s undiagnosed autism is impacting your family, Cynthia can help.      
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia R. johnson 
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. Dr. Shinn can provide diagnostic testing and recommend support for children or adults with symptoms of undiagnosed autism.        
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       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:   Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Data & Statistics. Retrieved online: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html  Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Signs & Symptoms. Retrieved online: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.html  Lai MC, Baron-Cohen S (2015). Identifying the lost generation of adults with autism spectrum conditions. Lancet Psychiatry.  2(11):1013-27. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00277-1.    Shinn. M.M.   (2018). Graduate Student’s Guide to Test Accommodations: The LSAT, MCAT, GRE, NCLEX, CBEST, GMAT, Cosmetology Exam, Contractors Exam, & Bar Exam.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/graduate-students-guide-to-test-accommodations  Jordan, M. (2018). Workplace Accommodations: Tips and Resources.  Autism.com  Retrieved online: https://www.autism.com/adults_accommodations2  Ranaghan, S. (2018). My story being diagnosed as an adult on the autism spectrum.  Autism Speaks . Retrieved from: https://www.autismspeaks.org/life-spectrum/my-story-being-diagnosed-autism-adult    How to Cite This Blog Article:    Shinn. M.M. (2019). Could My Dad Have Undiagnosed Autism?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/test-blog/could-my-dad-have-undiagnosed-autism

“Could My Dad have Undiagnosed Autism?”

Today, one in 59 kids is diagnosed with autism. 50 years ago, autism was largely misunderstood. It’s impossible to gauge how many kids from previous generations had autism but remained under the radar. If you think your dad might be one of the lost generation, check out this week’s blog for 8 things you should know.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “My Kid is So Defiant! Is it My Fault?”     So your kid isn’t a perfect angel – they talk back, resent you, and push your buttons like you’re a high-rise elevator. You say yes, they say no – it’s like they feed on making you angry. As frustrating as it feels, all parents deal with their kids being defiant to some degree (hint: YouTube “epic tantrums” if you need a reminder that you aren’t alone!).   A certain level of defiance is expected as a child matures. However, some kids struggle with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) – a condition that causes them to develop a pattern of disobedient behaviors toward authority figures. Without support, ODD can harm a kid’s relationships, academic performance, and emotional health.   So how do parents know if their kid’s defiance is a harmless phase or a serious problem? Here are 11 questions to consider:    1. Why does my kid act this way?   Your kid’s defiant behaviors may be caused by their genetic makeup, environmental factors, or both. A child’s temperament has a lot to do with how their brain is wired, something you’ve probably witnessed if you have multiple kids with very different personalities. Kids can also develop defiant behaviors as a way to cope with trauma, abuse, or other negative life experiences. While genetics and bad experiences play a role, parenting does as well. Many loving parents unintentionally encourage defiance by disciplining in ways that are too permissive, too harsh, or inconsistent.      2. Is it my fault?   It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact influence of genetics, negative psychological experiences, and parenting on your child’s behavior, but nothing good will come from beating yourself up. Most parents struggle with responding to their child’s defiance and it’s never too late to discover new tools for strengthening your family. Take a minute to release any guilt that you’ve been carrying and know that you are a great parent for seeking new ways to connect with your kid.       3. Is my kid just a spoiled punk?   ODD is a bit of a controversial diagnosis. Some people believe that defiant kids are just being disrespectful little punks and need nothing more than a “good old-fashioned spanking.” Regardless of your perspective, understanding ODD’s symptoms can help you determine whether your kid’s behavior goes beyond what’s considered normal. If your child exhibits four or more of the following symptoms for 6+ months, they may fit the criteria for an ODD diagnosis:      Loses their temper    Argues with adults    Actively refuses to comply with rules or requests     Deliberately annoys people 4+ times a week    Blames others for their mistakes or misbehavior    Is touchy or easily annoyed by others 2+ times a week    Is angry and resentful 4+ times a week    Their behavior negatively impacts their social or academic functioning     An official diagnosis can only be made by a mental health specialist.       


   
     
      
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      4. Are my rules consistent?   Kids with defiance issues have a strong need to feel control over their environment.  Help them understand your expectations by setting clear rules and explaining the consequences of breaking them ahead of time. Keep your rules listed in a visible area of the house and be consistent in following through with consequences when rules are broken.     5. Do I rehash mistakes?   Your child is going to slip up along the way, but don’t define them by their worst moments. After enforcing the consequences that you’ve set, move on and don’t rehash old arguments or bring up past outbursts. Show your child that each day is a new chance to make better choices, and that you believe in their ability to do so.      6. Am I emotionally intelligent?   One of the best ways for you to support your child is to show them what   healthy emotional management        looks like. Parents can model emotional intelligence (EQ) by talking openly about their feelings, expressing empathy for their child’s emotions, and stepping away to focus on their breathing when they are feeling angry or overwhelmed.     Click here to for our top 5 tips on fostering EQ in your child     7. Can I “Keep calm and parent on”?   Try to use a calm and neutral tone when dealing with your child's behavior. That can be difficult when your kid is about to throw a tuna can across aisle 4 because he didn’t get his way, but calmly enforcing consequences will yield better results than losing your cool. Remember, a child with ODD often hopes to engage their parents in a battle of wills, so blowing up will only fuel their fire. Explain your position in as few words as possible and don’t continue to discuss it.    8. When do I give them attention?   Parents often give more attention to negative behaviors, so make an effort to point out when your child acts appropriately. Celebrate behavioral wins like your child staying in their seat at a restaurant or completing their homework calmly. Let your kid know that you appreciate their extra effort and incentivize them for good behavior with praise, small prizes, or fun family activities.    Click here for our dad’s guide on increasing positive behaviors in your child through play     9. Can I commit to staying structured?   It’s easier for children to regulate their emotions when they are rested, physically active, and well-nourished. Be intentional about scheduling at least an hour a day for your kid to engage in physical activity. Offer healthy meals and ensure adequate sleep by sticking to a nightly bedtime that allows them to get the recommended amount of sleep for their age.      Click here to view the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for adequate sleep    .     10. Can parenting programs help?   There are several programs that empower parents with tools to improve their child’s behaviors.    Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT )   and    PC-CARE    have shown success in reducing disruptive behaviors in kids with ODD. Your child’s school may also offer programs for students that focus on peer groups or antisocial behavior. If your school has a mental health professional, ask them if there are programs available that could benefit your child.     Check out our blog for teachers on increasing positive behaviors in the classroom      11. Should I seek support?   If your child has defiance issues, there is no reason for you to struggle alone. There are several tools a mental health specialist can offer to help you support your child in increasing positive behaviors and overcoming symptoms of ODD.      


   
     
      
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      Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. If you are concerned with your child’s defiant behaviors, Dr. Shinn can provide diagnostic testing and educational consulting to support your child’s healthy emotional and behavioral development.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       Cynthia R. Johnson, LMFT,  is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. If your child’s defiant behavior is putting a strain on your family, Cynthia can empower you and your child with effective tips for managing emotions and strengthening your relationships.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia. 
       Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D.  specializes in supporting men and teenage boys through life’s transitions. If you have a teenage son who struggles with symptoms of ODD, Dr. Sample can provide a comfortable place for him to overcome obstacles and develop healthy behavioral habits.      
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       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:   American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology. (2009). ODD: A Guide for Families by the   American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Retrieved from https://www.aacap.org/App_Themes/AACAP/docs/resource_centers/odd/odd_resource_center_odd_guide.pdf  Hamilton SS, et al. Am Fam Physician. (2008). Oppositional Defiant Disorder  [Review Article]. Retrieved from   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/18841736/?i=3&from=/20431460/related  Mayo Clinic (2018). Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/oppositional-defiant-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20375831  McNeil, C.B. (2008). Parent-Child Interaction Therapy   Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/pubs/videos/4310814.aspx?tab=2

“My Kid is So Defiant! Is it My Fault?”

Is your kid disobedient, resentful, and seems to blame you for everything? Do you wonder if your kid’s defiant behavior is just a phase or if you should be concerned that there’s a bigger problem? If so, this blog’s for you!

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      8 Secrets for Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolution     January 1st tends to give us that “new year, new me” feeling. We all know that rush of motivation to make this the year we shed 10 pounds, pay off debts, or take our career to the next level. But then February rolls around and suddenly it’s like a switch has been flipped – your ambition fades, your motivation plummets, & excuses start pulling you away from reaching your goal. Before you know it, December arrives and the resolution you set in January is now a distant memory. At best, you’re no closer to your goal. At worst, you’re even further from it.    Research suggests that roughly 81% of New Year’s resolutions go unaccomplished by the end of the year. So what can a person do to make it in that mythical 19% of goal achievers?     1. Rely on your “why”   Before you determine what your goals will be, focus on “why” you desire a change in your life. Are you wanting to be healthier so you can play with your grandkids? Do you long to give your family a financially stable future? Keep a picture of your “why” as your smartphone’s screensaver. Revisit your “why” when your motivation wears thin and you feel like giving up.      2. Get a SMART start   Now that you’ve established your “why,” grab a pen and write down your goal. The act of writing goals down will make you feel more accountable for achieving them. As you detail what you aim to accomplish, make sure your goals pass the SMART criteria:   Specific  – Your goal must be clear and well-defined. If possible, stick with one specific resolution rather than aiming for several lifestyle changes at once.    Measurable  – Your goal should be broken down into small milestones and detailed steps so that you can measure your success along the way. Keeping charts or journals of your progress will help you stay on track.    Attainable  – Goals should be challenging but also realistic. Avoid “all-or-nothing” thinking and make restrictions reasonable. Instead of saying, “I’m not going to eat any sweets until 2020,” make your goal to limit sweets to twice a week.    Relevant  - Goals should support your “why” and be relevant to the direction you want your life to take. By keeping goals aligned with your vision and values, you'll be more likely to stick with them.   Time Bound  - Your goals must have a deadline, otherwise you’ll keep putting them off when challenges arise.   3. Fake it til you make it   Even if you don’t feel fully confident that you’ll achieve your goal this year, talk a big game. The language you use to describe your goal will influence how invested you are in making it happen. “I will quit smoking,” rather than, “I’d like to quit.” “I’m going to pass the bar exam,” rather than, “I’ll try to pass.” Go public and tell your friends and family about the goal you’re   going   to achieve in 2019.     4. Make an action plan   Failing to plan is planning to fail. This is especially true for demanding or long-term goals. Make an action plan of detailed steps you need to achieve to accomplish your end-goal.      Example: Goal – To open a coffee shop by December of 2019.   January/February – Develop my business and marketing plan   March/April – Find a property to lease for the shop  May/June - Apply for a small business loan  July/August – Acquire a business license and develop the menu   September/October – Establish vendors and startup inventory   November/December - Open doors and start carrying out marketing plan   5. Be good with bite-sized   Celebrate when you achieve smaller, bite-sized goals that contribute to your big picture plan. Setting out to achieve more micro-goals will feel less overwhelming than if you only focus on your long-term ambitions. Breaking your goals down into small and manageable portions will make you less likely to give up.      6. Try the “if-then” method   The if-then method is an effective secret-weapon for top goal achievers – people who use the if-then method are more than twice as likely to achieve their goals than people who don’t. The if-then method recognizes that there will be temptations to fail and creates a plan for how to work around them. To use the if-then method, think about what situations might tempt you to fall off-track. Then, create an if-then plan to prepare yourself to avoid falling into their trap.     Example:     Goal:  To save $500 per month for savings and investments.    If-then statements to avoid temptations:      If   I buy Christmas gifts,   then   I will stick to my budget    If   I go to the mall,   then   I will avoid expensive clothing stores    If   I go grocery shopping,   then   I will stick to my shopping list   7. Don’t quit after setbacks  Many people use screwups and setbacks as an excuse to drop their goal altogether. Give yourself some grace and be determined not to throw in the towel if you stumble along the way – even if it means you have to adjust your deadlines a bit.     8. Call on a coach   Making major life changes is challenging, but people are more successful when they have a supportive coach to hold them accountable. Our specialists can help you define SMART goals, create realistic action plans, and support you each step of the way.      


   
     
      
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      Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D.  specializes in supporting men and teenage boys through life’s transitions. If you have a teenage son who struggles with goal attainment or motivation, Dr. Sample can provide a comfortable place for him to overcome obstacles and work toward success.  Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample.      
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       Cynthia R. Johnson, LMFT,  is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. If you would like to see your family rise to higher goals in 2019, Cynthia can empower you to set and achieve your ambitions in any aspect of life.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia 
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. If your child struggles with motivation issues and goal attainment, Dr. Shinn can provide diagnostic testing and recommend support to help your child develop a goal-oriented lifestyle.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       Dr. Daniella A. Davis, Psy.D.,  is an expert in dealing with the unique challenges that women face throughout each stage of life. If you are a woman struggling with achieving your dreams, Dr. Davis can help you move forward on a clear path toward reaching your goals.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Davis 
       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:   “Beyond Goal Setting to Goal Flourishing.” (2017).  American Psychological Association . Retrieved from: www.apa.org/pubs/highlights/spotlight/issue-101.aspx.  Crawford, Nicole (2002). “Positivity Pays off for Winners of Psychology's Top Monetary Prize.”    American Psychological Association , Aug. 2002, Retrieved from: www.apa.org/monitor/julaug02/positivity.aspx.  Norcross JC1, Mrykalo MS, Blagys MD. (2002). Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year's resolvers and nonresolvers. J Clin Psychol. 2002 Apr;58(4):397-405.  Stringer, Heather (2017). “Boosting Productivity.”  American Psychological Association.  Retrieved from: www.apa.org/monitor/2017/09/boosting-productivity.aspx.

8 Secrets for Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolution

Are you overflowing with motivation to achieve your goals in January, only to fall off the wagon once February rolls around? If so, check out this week’s blog to learn 8 secrets to make your goals stick in 2019.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      The Parents Guide to Play: 9 Tips to Ignite Your Child’s Learning    During the holiday season, all parents dread this familiar scenario: you buy your kid a new toy, they’re thrilled for ten minutes, but then the toy sits on a shelf collecting dust for six months. While you can’t stop your child from shifting interests, you can engage them through play to support their learning, develop their social skills, and boost their creativity. But with hectic lives and daily distractions, it can be hard for parents to know how to channel their inner-child and connect with their kids through play.    So what can parents do to help their kids get the most out of playtime?    1. Accept the challenge   Play has always been a natural part of childhood across cultures, but today’s society doesn’t lend itself to children getting much unstructured play. Kids aren’t going outside as often, they’re involved in more structured activities, and many schools have reduced recess periods. Research has shown a correlation between society’s decrease in play and increases in depression and anxiety. For these reasons, it’s important that parents accept the challenge of consciously making play a priority.      2. Learn the benefits   Understanding the perks of playtime will help you make educated decisions about what types of toys and activities will benefit your child most. Play can help your child:      Learn about their world    Manage their feelings    Build relationships and social skills    Learn from playmates    Enhance their physical health     Discover how to self-entertain    Ignite their creativity     It’s also important to realize the damage that inactivity can cause – not getting adequate playtime can prevent your child’s brain from developing normally, increase attention issues, and negatively impact their academic performance.     3. Put quality before quantity   When it comes to playing with your kids, it’s important that you genuinely connect with them, even if only for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. If you’re sleep-deprived or stressed out like parents often are, take a break and catch up on bonding time later. Your child will benefit most from playing with you when you are rested, calm, and ready to have some fun.      4. Rotate playmates   It’s important for your child to play and interact with you as their parent, but also make sure they get ample playtime with peers their own age as well as some alone time to play by themselves. Playing with peers will help them develop social skills, and playing alone will help them learn to entertain themselves creatively.      5. Tailor toys by age   As your child’s brain develops, they will require different types of toys to stimulate their interests and learn new skills. Toys generally list which age groups they are geared toward, but you can also check out this    year-by-year toy guide      for details on which toys are best for your child in each stage of development.      6. Balance nurture with boundaries   Play provides a space for kids to lead and parents to learn what their kids are thinking and feeling. While play should be child-led, it also provides opportunities for parents to set limits and teach their children to respect boundaries. Empower your child by letting them choose and lead activities, but don’t allow them to behave in disrespectful or inappropriate ways. Playtime is a great opportunity to teach your child to consider the feelings of others – a lesson that will benefit them when playing with other kids at school.      7. Don’t Dominate   It’s great for you to become engaged in play, but make sure you don’t dominate activities yourself. Parents are especially prone to doing this with crafts or projects that are supposed to turn out a certain way, and can end up pushing their child aside as they create the finished product. So next time you’re creating a Lego masterpiece or building a robotic unicorn, make sure your kid is equally engaged in the assembly.      8. Practice PRIDE skills    Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) identifies 5 skills that parents can use to shape their children’s emotional and behavioral well-being. Incorporate these skills to get the most out of playtime with your child:        PRAISE   – Compliment your child for their positive behaviors. This will reinforce desirable actions, making them more likely to repeat them. Example: “I love how you’re stacking your blocks carefully and keeping them on the table.”      REFLECTION   – Repeat back or reflect what your child talks about during play. This shows that you are listening and value their thoughts. Example: Child says, “The dragon is flying to a far-off land.” Parent reflects, “The dragon is flying to a far-off land.”       IMITATION   – Boost your child’s confidence by copying their creations or ideas. Imitation shows your child you enjoy playing with them and think their ideas are cool. Example: “I’m going to draw a swamp monster just like you.”      DESCRIPTION   – Support your child’s language development and communication skills by describing what you see them doing during play. Example: “I see you’re taking your doll’s sneakers off and putting her roller-skates on.”      ENJOYMENT  – Don’t forget to show enthusiasm and enjoyment as you play. The more fun you are having, the more engaged your child will be. Example: “I am having so much fun playing soccer with you!”    Dr. Marta M. Shinn, a specialist at Variations Psychology, is a    PCIT      and    PC-CARE    Trainer for the University of California, Davis and has taught many moms, dads, and caregivers how to incorporate PRIDE skills in their parenting.     Click here to find a PCIT Provider       


   
     
      
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       Are you a dad? Click here to check out our PRIDE skills for dads     9. Get support   It can be difficult for parents to know how to connect to their inner-kid and engage their children through play. But remember – behind every great player is a supportive coach! Our specialists at Variations can help you bridge the gap between yours and your child’s interests to make play enriching and rewarding for both of you.    Cynthia R. Johnson, LMFT,  is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. Cynthia is an experienced PCIT therapist and can teach parents techniques to apply PRIDE skills at home.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia  
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. If you are concerned with your child’s development, Dr. Shinn can provide diagnostic testing and educational consulting to meet your child’s needs.      
	   Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       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:   O’Connor, Siobhan (2017). The Secret Power of Play.  Time Magazine . Retrieved online: http://time.com/4928925/secret-power-play/  Raising Children – The Australian Parenting Website. (2018). Why Play is Important. https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/play-learning/play-ideas/why-play-is-important  Bongiorno, L. (2018). 10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play.  National Association for the Education of Young Children.  https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/10-things-every-parent-play  National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2018). Good Toys for Young Children by Age and Stage. Retrieved online: https://www.naeyc.org/resources/topics/play/toys

The Parents Guide to Play: 9 Tips to Ignite Your Child’s Learning

Every parent knows what it feels like to buy your kids new toys, have them play with them for a day, and then have them collect dust for 6 months! While you can’t stop your child from shifting interests, you can make play more engaging to inspire your child to learn and maybe keep that toy off the shelf a little longer. Check out this week’s blog for 9 tips on igniting your child’s learning through play.