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      10 Tricks for Talking Back and Keeping Safe from Bullies     It used to be that kids would only have to face bullies on the playground or school bus. With today’s technology, kids can be bullied 24/7, day and night, leading to an increase in depression,   suicide   ,  and other mental health issues. Parents want to protect their kids, but shielding them from bullies has become an increasingly difficult task. Fortunately, there are tips you can teach your kids to help them protect themselves.    So how can kids stay safe while standing up for themselves? Here are 10 tricks to share with your children:    1. Understand why      If you have a clear understanding of why people bully, it will be easier not to take their actions to heart. Remind yourself that people often bully because they feel inadequate about themselves and pick on others to try to feel a sense of power. A bully’s words and actions have everything to do with how they feel about themselves, and nothing to do with the person they are bullying.    2. Recognize it    Being able to label what’s happening is the first step in accepting that it’s not your fault and making a plan to stop it. Know that bullying happens in several forms: name calling, intimidation, pushing or hitting, gossiping and spreading rumors, isolating you, trying to manipulate you, etc. If you suspect you’re being bullied, it’s important to act quickly. Bullies tend to “test the water” to see how much you’ll put up with, and their actions will only get worse if no one stands up to them.    3. Protect yourself online   Modern day bullies often hide behind screens but can cause serious damage to reputations and self-esteem. Protect yourself online by only sharing passwords with your parents and no one else. Think about who sees you posts - strangers? friends? friends of friends? Ensure your privacy settings only expose your posts to people you trust. Always think through what you post and consider whether it’s something that could be used to shame or humiliate you. If someone posts something mean about you, screenshot it to show a trusted adult, report it, and block them.   4. Cultivate confidence   Kids who are victims of bullying sometimes have   difficulty in social situations   or may be bullied as a result of rumors spread about them. Overcome these challenges by walking tall, focusing on your strengths, attempting to make new friends, and practicing positive affirmations.    Examples:     “The rumors they are spreading are not true and my real friends know that.”  “I am strong and I can stand up for myself.”    Does your kid have challenges with self-esteem or making friends? Our Specialists can help. Click below to schedule your free 15-minute consultation.       


   
     
      
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      5. Control your reactions   What the bully wants is a reaction – crying, yelling, etc. Avoid giving them what they want by keeping calm and ignoring them. Bullies tend to target people who come off as timid because they don’t think they’ll stand up for themselves. However, acting out in aggression can also be a problem, as it may lead to violence. The best option is to assertively tell them to stop. Believe it or not, bullies don’t think they deserve your respect, so they admire when you show self-assurance. Practice being assertive by keeping your head high and using a calm, clear voice to tell them to stop.    Examples:     “Don’t talk to me like that.”  “You don’t need to do this to be cool.”     6. Laugh it off   A bully feels power when they think they are getting to you. Laughing off their actions shows that they cannot control you with bad behaviors. If possible, try to laugh off what the bully says; this will lighten the tension and take away the reaction they aim to get out of you.    Examples:      Bully:  “You dress like my grandma!”   Kid: “ I actually borrowed this dress from her. I love her style!”   Bully:  *Posts on Instagram photo of teen*: “Ew, you look like a whale!”   Teen:  “Thank you, I love whales! What a compliment! #Whalelife”    7. Plan around them   While it’s important to stand up for yourself when needed, it’s also wise to avoid situations where you know you’ll be vulnerable and exposed to bullies. Block them on social media, eat lunch on the other side of the quad, or walk a different way home from school.   8. Lean on others   Bullying usually happens when adults aren’t around, so try to stay near adults when you know you’ll be in the presence of a bully. Let them know what’s going on - adults need to know when bullying happens so they can help you put a stop to it. Bullies are also less likely to confront you when you’re in a group, so ask friends to tag along when you when you know you’ll be in a bully’s path.    9. Join the movement   A group of anti-bullying warriors is a lot stronger than one mean bully! You can be a leader in preventing bullying in your school by joining a school safety committee or talking to your principal about starting one. A committee can identify where bullying is happening and create plans to stop it. They can also provide resources for kids to use if they or someone they know is being bullied.    10. Get a Specialist’s support    Being bullied can have severe effects and should not be taken lightly. It may be time to seek help from a specialist if you are experiencing any of the following:     Feeling afraid, stressed, depressed, or anxious    Having thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself    Having trouble with school work    Having problems with mood, energy level, sleep and appetite     If you don’t feel your school is doing enough to stop bullying or if you’re a parent who is concerned that   your child may be the one doing the bullying   ,    our specialists can help.   SPECIALISTS:    Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D.  specializes in supporting teenage boys through life’s transitions. If your teenage son has been the victim of bullying or if you’re concerned that he has bullied others, Dr. Sample can help.         
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       Dr. Elsa Torres, Psy.D.,  is a specialist in Diagnostic Testing and Counseling. Dr. Torres can provide counseling and effective tools to help your kid build confidence, assertiveness, and coping skills to effectively deal with bullies.      
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Torres 
       Dr. Amy E. Weir, Psy.D.,  is a specialist in Neurodevelopment and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Many children who are bullied have difficulty with communication and social interactions. If your child has been a victim of bullying and you think they may have autism or other challenges, Dr. Weir can guide you in supporting your child’s safety, education, and emotional well-being.     


   
     
      
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      Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in Child and Educational psychology. If you’re concerned that your child’s school is not adequately addressing bullying, Dr. Shinn can recommend support to ensure their school takes appropriate measures to meet your child’s needs.      


   
     
      
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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:   Barth, F.D. (2017). 6 Smarter Ways to Deal With a Bully.  Psychology Today . Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-couch/201702/6-smarter-ways-deal-bully  Bullying. (n.d.). Retrieved from   https://www.apa.org/topics/bullying/index  Featured Topic: Bullying Research|Youth Violence|Violence Prevention|Injury   Center|CDC. (2018, July 16). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/bullyingresearch/index.html  Gavin, M. L. (Ed.). (2019, February). Dealing With Bullying (for Teens). Retrieved from   https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/bullies.html  School Bullying is Nothing New, But Psychologists Identify New Ways to Prevent It.   (2004, October 29). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/research/action/bullying  Shinn. M.M. (2019).Could My Teen Have Autism?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/could-my-teen-have-autism   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. (2019). Preventing Student Suicide With Just a Few Simple Questions.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/preventing-student-suicide-with-just-a-few-simple-questions   What Kids Can Do. (2017, September 28). Retrieved from   https://www.stopbullying.gov/kids/what-you-can-do/index.html    How to Cite This Blog Article:    Shinn. M.M. (2019). 10 Tricks for Talking Back and Keeping Safe from Bullies.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from

10 Tricks for Talking Back and Keeping Safe from Bullies

“Child in critical condition after fight at school,” “Teen dies by suicide as result of cyberbullying” – it seems that week after week, new tragedies occur as a result of bullying. Check out this week’s blog for 10 tricks to teach your kids on talking back and keeping safe from bullies.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Graduate Student’s Guide to Test Accommodations: The LSAT, MCAT, GRE, NCLEX, CBEST, GMAT, Cosmetology Exam, Contractors Exam, & Bar Exam   If you’re facing a high stakes test at the graduate or post-graduate level, you’re no stranger to overcoming challenges. You’ve worked your tail off to get to where you are and know that no obstacle can stop you from reaching your goals. However, if you have a health condition or learning disability that impacts your testing performance, you may be concerned that you won’t be able to show your true knowledge on exam day. Luckily, there are several accommodations available to level the playing field for eligible students.    So what does a person need to do receive accommodations on graduate exams?    1. Know your rights   You may think that because you are taking exams for a high-level career, that you may not be eligible for the same accommodations afforded to high school students. The Americans with Disabilities Act, however, states that students with disabilities who graduate from professional programs are entitled to reasonable accommodations in the licensing process.    2. Stay ahead of deadlines   If you anticipate that you’ll need testing accommodations, don’t wait until the last minute to look into it. The approval process for accommodations takes a minimum of 6 weeks, and that does not include the time it will for take you to gather the documentation required to submit your request. Stay ahead of the game by preparing your request well in advance of registration deadlines. Check out these links to view upcoming deadlines of some common high stakes tests at the graduate or post graduate level:      LSAT     (Nationwide testing calendar)      MCAT     (Nationwide testing calendar)      GRE     (Nationwide testing calendar)      NCLEX   (Appointment – based)      GMAT   (Appointment – based)      California Cosmetology Exam   (Test date is assigned within 40 days of receiving admission letter after submitting this linked application)      CBEST     (California testing calendar)      California Bar Exam     (California testing calendar)      California Contractors State Licensing Exam    (Test date is assigned)     3. Learn how to register   If you are requesting accommodations, you will likely need to register for your exam prior to submitting your request. Check out these links for step-by-step registration instructions for applicants requesting accommodations on these high stakes tests:      LSAT        MCAT        GRE        NCLEX         GMAT         CBEST         California Cosmetology Exam        California Bar Exam        California Contractors State Licensing Exam       4. Learn what’s available   There are a variety of accommodations offered for eligible students. The types of accommodations available depend on the specific testing demands of each exam. Some common accommodations include, but are not limited to:    Additional time to complete exams    Extra breaks    Large print or Braille exam books    Use of computers for writing portions     Private or small group testing    Dictation to a typist or recording device    Wheelchair access    Scratch paper    Use of a scribe    Ability to pace or take walks     Use of magnification devices    Ability to bring medications and/or food and drinks    Voice recognition software     5. Learn what’s not   To approve accommodations, all exam administrators require that your impairment must clearly impact your test-taking ability in some way. Some disabilities that are not commonly accepted are impairments in walking or other physical movement unrelated to writing. Certain psychiatric conditions that do not clearly impair test-taking ability, such as a phobia of spiders, may not be eligible for accommodated testing.   6. Think back to other exams   Some exam providers, such as the LSAT, will often approve any accommodations that you were provided during other exams such as the SAT or ACT. If you received accommodations on any post-secondary exams, contact your previous test administrator and request a letter that details the specific accommodations that you were provided. Keep in mind, however, that you may need additional documentation beyond your past accommodations. Other test administrators, such as the MCAT, have much stricter documentation requirements than the SAT or ACT.   7. Find an expert   While each test administrator has varying policies on what they require, they all share common ground in this: your disability or health condition must be documented by a qualified specialist. From your academic experience, you may have a thorough grasp on your challenges and what accommodations you need to succeed, but you will still need them validated by an expert to receive approval from your test administrator.    Click here to schedule your complimentary 15-minute testing accommodations consultation     8. Get documentation   It’s important to review the specific documentation requirements of your test administrator, as incomplete documentation packets will either be denied or returned as incomplete. A  Specialist in Educational Psychology  can help you prepare your documentation packet. Most test administrators will require certified documentation explaining the following:    Your diagnosis and specific impairments    A description of the evaluative measures used to determine your diagnosis    An explanation of how your impairments limit your functioning during tests    Recommended accommodations with a rationale for each recommendation      Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Marta M. Shinn for evaluation and documentation support     9. Apply early   Once you’ve compiled all of your necessary documentation, apply well in advance of your exam’s deadlines. This will not only give ample time for the application to be reviewed, but will also allow you some time to appeal the decision if your request is denied or returned for having incomplete documentation.    10. Get support   Being faced with a high stakes exam is stressful enough, and worrying about securing your accommodations can prevent you from focusing on mastering your material. Our specialists at Variations Psychology can guide you through the accommodations process, provide you with necessary documentation required for your exam, and help you secure your accommodation needs.     Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in educational psychology. Dr. Shinn can evaluate for impairments or learning disabilities that impact your test taking ability and provide you with necessary documentation and support to secure exam accommodations.     
 
	 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:   Association of American Medical Colleges (2018). Applying for Accommodations. Retrieved online: https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/applying-accommodations/  Association of American Medical Colleges (2018). Understanding the Review Process. Retrieved online: https://aamc-orange.global.ssl.fastly.net/production/media/filer_public/18/90/189077ca-f0d0-4c26-ac41-1bf72c1e8248/understanding_the_review_process.pdf  Association of American Medical Colleges (2018). U.S. MCAT Calendar, Scheduling Deadlines, and Score Release Dates. Retrieved online:  https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/mcat-testing-calendar-score-release-dates/  California Educator Credentialing Assessments (2018) CBEST PBT Registration Deadlines. Retrieved online: https://www.ctcexams.nesinc.com/Content/HTML_FRAG/CAPBTRB_RegistrationDates_CBEST.html  Contractors State License Board (2018). Step 2: Applying for the Examination. http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Contractors/Applicants/Contractors_License/Exam_Application/Applying_For_License.aspx  Cosmetology-License.com (2018). How to Become a Cosmetologist in California. https://www.cosmetology-license.com/california/#complete-examination-application  Department of Consumer Affairs: Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (2018). Cosmetologist Application for Examination and Initial License Fee. Retrieved online:   https://www.barbercosmo.ca.gov/forms_pubs/forms/cosmetologist_app.pdf  Educational Testing Service (2018). Accommodations for Test Takers with Disabilities or Health-related Needs. Retrieved online: https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/register/disabilities/  Educational Testing Service (2018). How to Request Accommodations. Retrieved online: https://www.ets.org/disabilities/test_takers/request_accommodations/  Educational Testing Service (2018). Test Centers and Dates. Retrieved online: https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/register/centers_dates/  Graduate Management Admission Council (2018). Four Steps to Schedule Your GMAT Exam. Retrieved online:https://www.mba.com/exams/gmat/before-the-exam/register-for-the-gmat-exam/schedule-your-exam  Graduate Management Admission Council (2018). Register as a Test Taker with Disabilities. Retrieved online: https://www.mba.com/exams/gmat/before-the-exam/register-for-the-gmat-exam/register-as-a-test-taker-with-disabilities  Law School Administration Council (2018). LSAC Policy on Accommodations for Test Takers with Disabilities. Retrieved online: https://www.lsac.org/lsat/lsac-policy-accommodations-test-takers-disabilities  Law School Administration Council (2018). LSAC Deadlines and Score Release Dates. Retrieved online: https://www.lsac.org/lsat/lsat-dates-deadlines-score-release-dates  National Council of State Boards of Nursing (2018). Application and Registration. Retrieved online: https://www.ncsbn.org/nclex-application-and-registration.htm  National Council of State Boards of Nursing (2018). Scheduling. Retrieved online: https://www.ncsbn.org/1217.htm  Study.com (2018) NCLEX Test Accommodations. Retrieved online: https://study.com/academy/popular/nclex-test-accommodations.html  Study.com (2018) CBEST Test Accommodations. Retrieved online: https://study.com/academy/popular/cbest-test-accommodations.html  The State Bar of California (2018). General Instructions for Requesting Test Accommodations. Retrieved online: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/documents/forms/admissions/TAInstructions.0416_R.pdf  U.S. Department of Justice (2018). ADA Requirements – Testing Accommodations. Retrieved online: https://www.ada.gov/regs2014/testing_accommodations.html

Graduate Student’s Guide to Test Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that adults with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations on professional licensing exams. However, the application and approval process can be confusing and time consuming. If you are facing a high stakes exam, check out this week’s blog to learn tips on successfully securing accommodations.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Take the Stress Out of Tests!  11 Ways to Manage Test Anxiety     Society places a huge emphasis on the importance of tests in school. “You better pass your reading test or you’ll fall behind in 2nd grade.” “You better ace your SATs or you’ll never get into college.” “You better pass The Bar or else you’ll never have a career and will probably end up living under a bridge - but no pressure!” It’s no wonder that millions of students deal with at least some anxiety revolving around tests; but for some students, test anxiety is debilitating, preventing them from being able to show their true knowledge and capabilities.    How does test anxiety impact a student?    Anxiety is our body’s natural response to things we view as threats. Students with test anxiety have an extreme fear of performing poorly on tests, causing them to view exams as threatening. This fear impacts them physically, mentally, and emotionally. As symptoms increase in one of those areas, they tend to get worse in the other two. One thought of, “I know I’m going to fail,” can turn into feeling panicked, nauseous, faint, and short of breath – making test-taking unbearable. If students don’t learn ways to successfully manage test anxiety early on, it can damper their performance during tests throughout their teen and adult lives.   If you are a parent or teacher, here are some ways to help students get a hold on test anxiety:    1. Put tests in perspective    If you suspect your student has anxiety, ask them what they’re afraid of. You will likely find that their fears revolve around a dread of failure or feelings of inadequacy. As an adult, you have a more realistic understanding of the level of influence that tests do and don’t have on your life. Sure, there are high stakes exams out there, but you know that in a few years their test scores won’t be impacting their long-term life success. Share your insight and remind them that a test does not have the power to define their worth, potential, or future.      2. Amp up affirmations   Positive affirmations are encouraging thoughts people say to themselves that help them believe in their ability to succeed. Have your student come up with positive affirmations to replace their negative thoughts about testing. In time, repeating these affirmations will help them reverse negative thought patterns that fuel their anxiety.    Example :   Replace , “I’m scared that I won’t remember how to multiply,”  with , “I know how to multiply and I’m going to do great.”   Replace , “I know I’m going to fail AP History,”  with , “I’ll study and try my best.”   Replace , “I’ll never pass the MCAT – my career is doomed,”  with , “I’ve studied just as hard as everyone else and I can do this. Watch out med school, here I come!”   3. Teach muscle relaxation   When we get anxious, our muscles naturally clench up. Teaching relaxation techniques can help students calm their body’s response to anxiety, in turn reducing their emotional distress. One exercise is to clench your fists for 5 seconds, then release them while picturing every muscle in your body letting go of any tension.      4. Make breathing an art form   Another effective tool in reducing anxiety is breathing exercises. Anxiety tends to shorten our breath, fueling the sense of panic that tests can bring on. Have students practice their breathing, focusing on deep inhales and slow exhales.     5. Visualize success   There are two types of visualization that you can teach your students to help them manage test anxiety. First, they can close their eyes and envision a safe, calming place every time they start feeling tense. Second, they can think back on a time they did well on a test and then picture themselves doing great on the upcoming test.      6. Seat strategically   Educators, seat your highly anxious students with low anxiety students. When they see their classmates modeling healthy study habits and a relaxed attitude around test prep, it can gradually help them view tests as less threatening. This also goes for parents; if you’re having kids over for study group, don’t only invite the over-achievers. Make sure to invite peers who are less prone to stress or who have overcome test anxiety themselves to influence the tone of the group.      7. Create a culture of calm   “Be positive” – it’s more than just a blood type, it’s a way of life. Anxiety is infectious, so be careful not to show lots of anxiety around your students’ test performance. If you’re a parent of a child who is excelling and exceeding the performance of others, express pride but try not to suggest any expectation for them to outperform anyone else. Any anxieties or pressures that you convey will likely rub off on them, so do your best to create a positive, supportive, and optimistic environment around testing. Smile and show your sense of humor. Your demeanor during testing will signal to your students that this is not a threatening situation.       For more advice on managing your own anxiety, view our blog on how to STOP Anxiety in its Tracks       8. Prioritize prep work   Students feel much better about test taking if they feel prepared and knowledgeable on the material. Whether you are a teacher or parent, help your students feel prepared by:      Teaching test taking strategies such as skipping difficult questions and coming back to them at the end    Explaining different test formats    Helping them create a study plan to make them feel prepared    Allowing plenty of review time to give students opportunities to ask questions and refresh their memory     9. Assign fun   Although test preparation plays a critical role in alleviating test anxiety, students with test anxiety often burn themselves out with studying before testing even begins.  Emphasize to your students that while studying and homework are important for their success, time for fun, relaxation, and recreation are also vital for them to perform at their best.     10. Praise properly    Students with anxiety often grasp the material but draw a blank when the test is in front of them. This is often a result of their fear of incompetency toward testing. You can reduce the likelihood of them freezing up by boosting their confidence leading up to the test. Make sure to praise them for more than just mastery of a subject – encourage students’ progress and efforts before they’ve got a lesson down.     Examples :   “See! You’re doing great with the first two steps of long division. You’ll have the rest down in no time.”  “You’re really making progress on your review worksheets. You’re on the right track to be well-prepared for the mid-term.”    For more tips on improving your child’s attitude toward learning, check out our blog on Fostering a Growth Mindset        11. Visit a specialists   Every parent wants school to be an enriching experience for their child. If anxiety is holding your child back from getting the most out of their education, they may qualify for accommodations including additional breaks or extended testing times. Our specialists at Variations Psychology can determine the correct diagnosis for your child, assist you in securing accommodations at for school tests and high stakes exams, and give your child strategies to cope with anxiety symptoms.    Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D ., is an expert in child and educational psychology. Dr. Shinn can help your child learn ways to overcome test anxiety and continue their schooling with confidence.      
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       Cynthia Johnson, LMFT , is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. She has years of experience in supporting parents, teens, and children in overcoming challenges such as anxiety, depression, and relationship challenges.      
 
	 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 including issues related to test anxiety and academic challenges. Dr. Sample provides a comfortable place for men in all walks of life to gain tools for leading fulfilling lives.       
 
	 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).  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.

Take the Stress Out of Tests!
11 Ways to Manage Test Anxiety

Though no obituary has ever read, “Cause of Death: Flunking the SAT,” the stress of high-stakes testing can feel make a student feel like they are in a life or death situation. Without effective coping skills, test anxiety can negatively  impact students’ physical, emotional, and mental health. For tips on helping students manage test anxiety, check out this week’s blog.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      8 Tips to Create a Mentally Healthy Classroom   Back-to-school is a hectic time for teachers, but it’s also very exciting. The new year offers a fresh start to get to know each student and create a personalized learning environment to help them grow. With this excitement comes both challenge and responsibility – challenge in learning the unique needs of each child, and responsibility for tailoring teaching methods to empower every student toward success. But learning isn’t one-size-fits-all, and it can be difficult for teachers to know how to respond to the varying needs of each of students.  So what can teachers do to support the mental health needs of their students?   Follow these 8 tips to support students through common learning & mental health obstacles:    1. Limit Distractions   Children with challenges related to motivation, attention, or hyperactivity may all have trouble staying focused in class. Teachers can help students remain focused by establishing eye contact, seating them strategically to keep them on task, and keeping most critical thinking tasks in the morning.  Teachers can also download this   FOCUS skills handout,   developed by   Dr. Marta M. Shinn  , with tips to support on task behaviors in school and at home.   2. Break it up   Breaking up big tasks can make classwork feel less overwhelming and more manageable for students with anxiety, depression, ADHD, motivation issues, and autism spectrum disorder. Instead of giving them a 30-page reading assignment to complete by the end of the week, assign 6 pages per night that will be reviewed the next day. Consider giving frequent, shorter quizzes rather than limiting testing to one or two high stakes exams.   3. Teach emotional regulation   Many mental health issues have to do with a person’s lack of healthy coping skills to process difficult emotions. This is often true for children with anxiety, depression, or self-harming behaviors. By teaching students healthy coping skills to manage their feelings, you can help them reduce negative symptoms so they can focus on learning.  Try the following strategies:   Teach breathing exercises and muscle relaxation techniques  Have the class write positive affirmations about themselves and what they will accomplish this school year  Don’t let students out of tasks that intimidate them – instead, talk to them about ways they can cope with their fears    4. Ignite their interest    You may not be able to make certain subjects easier for students, but you can make them more interesting. This can be especially engaging for unmotivated students or children with autism. Get to know your students’ interests and try to integrate them into your lessons wherever possible, especially on tasks they find difficult or overwhelming.   Examples:   If you have a student with autism that has a fixation on the Lakers, create word problems that incorporate basketball player names.  If you have a student who is unmotivated in English but loves doing ballet, encourage her to write her paper on what dance means to her.   5. Create a uniform front   Students achieve the greatest success when they feel supported by teachers, parents, and counselors. It can be tough to build relationships with every student’s family, but try to periodically check in with parents to discuss what strategies do and don’t work in helping their child learn.   6. Offer Predictability    Many learning disorders and mental health conditions benefit from predictability. Let your students know exactly what they can expect to do in class each day. Offer 10, 5, and 1-minute transition warnings to prepare children to move to the next task. List daily plans and lesson components on the board so students know what to expect. Stick to consistent, predictable routines and give plenty of warning when the routine will be altered.   Example:  “James, next Monday I will be visiting my grandmother, so  you are going to have a substitute teacher that day.”   7. Choose positivity over punishment    Though this can be difficult with students who are especially disruptive, do your best to use positive reinforcement more often than punishment. While there is a place for consequences, try to ignore mildly disruptive behaviors and make sure to praise students when they are on task, well-behaved, and completing work on time. Focusing on positive reinforcement will not only increase desirable behaviors in students with ADHD, behavioral issues, and autism, but it will also boost confidence in students struggling with depression, anxiety, and self-harm.   8. Emphasize Always   Students will only feel comfortable being honest with you if they feel you won’t respond with anxiety, shock, or judgement. When a student opens up to you about mental health challenges, build trust by validating their feelings, expressing understanding, and working with them to find healthy ways to cope.   Example : “I’m glad you felt comfortable coming to me about your depression and how it’s been affecting your school work. I understand how difficult middle school can be and I am always here to listen as you work through this. Can we visit the school counselor to discuss some ways to help you when you’re feeling depressed?”   9. Check out these resources   The following handouts, developed by   Clinical & Educational Psychologist Dr. Marta M. Shinn  , were designed to help educators understand the best ways to support students with common mental health issues. Check them out for detailed tips on supporting students with each specific diagnosis:    Strategies to Supporting Students with ADHD      Strategies to Supporting Students with Anxiety      Strategies to Supporting Students with Autism      Strategies to Supporting Students with Depression      Strategies to Supporting Students with Non-Suicidal Self-Injury      Strategies to Supporting Students who are Unmotivated     Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D. , is a Psychologist, Research Scientist, and nationally recognized speaker on topics related to clinical child psychology and educational psychology. Dr. Shinn has spoken at several schools and universities to empower educators in policies and methods that promote their students’ mental health.    If you are interested in having Dr. Shinn speak at your school or institution, learn more by clicking here.     If you are a teacher seeking a counselor to refer your students to, you can refer to your school-based counselor or to a community counselor such as the child therapists at Variations Psychology.      To learn more about our child psychology specialists, click here.      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).  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.

8 Tips to Create a Mentally Healthy Classroom

It’s common for teachers to have students with challenges that impact their learning such as ADHD, autism, anxiety, and depression just to name a few. With so many different obstacles, what can teachers do to ensure their classroom supports the needs of all of their students? Our Specialists at Variations Psychology compiled 8 classroom strategies for teachers to use to support the mental health of every student. Check it out before you head back-to-school!

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Should I Let My Teen Get a Job? 10 Things Parents Should Know    As much as teens rely on mom and dad for a warm bed, free laundry, and a stocked refrigerator, they desperately want to feel like adults. Often times, this desire results in teens wanting to take on their first job. While parents want their teens to have a healthy transition into adulthood, it can be scary to let them take on the responsibility and the demands of a job while they’re still in school. Allowing your teen to get a job is a big decision, especially if they are involved in challenging classes or demanding extra-curriculars.   So how can parents know if their teen is ready to start filling out job applications? Here are 10 things to consider:    1. There are tons of benefits   We’re not talking about health insurance or retirement plans; those will come later down the line when they reach their career goals. But there are countless benefits that an entry level job can bring to a teenager’s life.  To name a few, jobs can help them:   Discover how to search and apply for jobs  Learn about money management  Gain confidence  Feel independent  Become more responsible  Develop work ethic and job skills  Stay occupied when school is out  Network and make friends  Develop time management  Pay for their own stuff (can I get a YASSSS!)    2. It doesn't have to kill your grades    “My son?! A job?! How will he pass AP bio?!” Despite many parents’ concern that by earning an income, kids will lose all motivation to make good grades, research has indicated that teens working 10-13 hours per week tend to have higher grades than their unemployed counterparts. It should be noted however, that working more than 13 hours per week can make it difficult to manage the high school work-load   3. It gives a "feel for the field"   Sadly, many students spend years pursuing high level degrees only to find themselves unsatisfied with their field after they graduate. An entry level job related to a field they are interested in can give them a sense of the pros and cons and help them determine if it’s really what they want to pursue long-term. For this reason, it’s good to encourage them to look for jobs that develop skills related to their interests. For example, if your daughter wants to be a doctor, becoming a lifeguard would teach her CPR and other lifesaving techniques.    For more tips on supporting your teen’s success, check out our blog on fostering passion and persistence in your children     4. Jobs help careers   While college degrees are important, let’s face it, employers want work experience. Whether or not your teen’s job has anything to do with their long-term pursuits, the skills and work ethic instilled by minimum wage employment can definitely make them stand out above candidates who only have academic track records. Plus, working as a teen demonstrates that they are successfully able to balance work and education, a trait that shows they are both persistent and adaptable.   5. Baby steps are the way to go   …just don’t call them that – your teen wants to be treated like an adult, remember?! They don’t have to go straight from total dependence on you to working 30 hours a week and moving out. Make a deal with your teen that they can only work as long as nothing else suffers – that means school, social relationships, extracurriculars, and family time. Start out with allowing them to only work weekends or seasonally. As they prove themselves capable and responsible, consider allowing more hours after school.   6. Motives matter   Taking on a job is a great way to teach goal-setting, persistence, and financial education to your child. If they express interest in getting a job, ask them why they want one. To buy a car? To prepare for a career? To gain responsibility? Have them set goals and hold them accountable as they work. This is also a great time to teach them how to budget and create a savings plan to earn things they want to work for.   7. Volunteering isn't the same thing   Don’t get us wrong, volunteering is a wonderful thing for your teen to take part in. It builds character, encourages compassion, and fosters gratitude. But there are certain takeaways from paid employment that volunteerism just can’t provide – jobs will teach your teen a heightened level of accountability and will help them understand the relationship between time, effort, and compensation – all important concepts as they enter adulthood.   8. There are cons to consider    While there are many benefits in allowing teens to work, it’s important to understand potential setbacks. First, teens are still developing, and their lack of real world experience can make them vulnerable for being exploited by employers. Working excessive hours can also harm their social life, extracurricular activities, and school attendance. Employment also exposes teens to older adults, potentially increasing the risk of them being exposed to drugs or alcohol. These reasons are why it’s critical for parents to stay involved, making sure their child’s working hours are moderate and that employment is not impacting other areas of their life.     9. Personal factors play a role   At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether teens should get a job. Parents have to base the decision on their child’s mental health, emotional maturity, and current demands. If your teen is taking a ton of high level classes and really stressing out about them, this year might not be the right time to add a job to their plate. If they struggle with time management or showing up to school on time, have them work on improving those areas before you consider letting them work.   10. Variations can help you decide    Every parent’s goal is to help their teens transition from carefree children to productive, responsible adults - but knowing how to do that can be tricky. The decision to let your teen work can be difficult, but our specialists at Variations Psychology can help.     Cynthia Johnson, LMFT,  is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. She has years of experience in supporting parents, teens, and children in working through challenges, reaching their goals, and building strong, healthy relationships.     
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia.  
       Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D . specializes in supporting men and teen boys through life’s transitions. Teen boys and men face a variety of unique challenges throughout their lives, and Dr. Sample is experienced in helping clients cope with issues such as school or work challenges, family and relationship struggles, anger, anxiety, depression, and trauma. Dr. Sample provides a comfortable place for men of all ages to overcome obstacles and gain the tools for leading successful and fulfilling lives.     
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D ., is a Child and Educational Psychologist. Dr. Shinn can get to know you and your teen, discuss your goals and concerns, and help you decide if your teen is ready to take on their first job. In addition, Dr. Shinn can give you tips on how to better prepare your teen for the workforce before making your decision.       
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Marta M. 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).  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.

Should I Let My Teen Get a Job?
10 Things Parents Should Know

“If you want to be treated like an adult you better start acting like one!” Us parents say that, but do we really want our teens to run out and get a job? If you’re wondering if your teen is ready for the workforce, check out this week’s blog and find out!

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      School’s Out – Should I Get My Kid Tested?   All parents want their children to learn in a fair and enriching environment, but that doesn’t look the same for every child. Students struggling with academic, social, or emotional challenges may require additional support to help them reach their potential. In most cases, however, students can only receive special accommodations if they’ve been tested for eligibility by a licensed specialist.  But all students face challenges in one way or another – how does a parent know if their child should see a specialist?   What Psychologists are testing for   There are a variety of issues that psychologists can identify and recommend accommodations for. Summer is an ideal time to get your child tested, as it allows you to make any necessary arrangements for accommodations before the school year starts. Consider visiting a specialist this summer if you think your child may be struggling with any of the following challenges:   1. Learning Disabilities   Throughout your child’s school day, they are asked to process information in a variety of ways. They see numbers, hear directions, and write down answers. Many children have difficulty processing information in one or more ways which can delay their learning and reduce their confidence. Common learning disabilities can impair a child’s ability to focus, read, write, spell, process sounds, interpret language, or understand math symbols. If you suspect your child may have a learning disability, getting them tested can qualify them for accommodations and/or modifications to help them work around their areas of difficulty.     
 
	 Check out our blog on securing accommodations and modifications for your child on the SAT/ACT 
      Click below to listen to Dr. Marta Shinn’s podcast on understanding accommodations and modifications for SAT and ACT tests     

 
 
      2. Emotional Intelligence Issues   While intellectual intelligence is important, many studies suggest that emotional intelligence (EQ) may be even more important to a person’s success than their IQ. If your child has a hard time understanding or managing emotions, it can impact their grades, self-esteem, resiliency, and coping skills. Having your child’s emotional development evaluated can help you learn ways to increase their EQ and improve their academic and social experiences.     
 
	 Check out our blog on 5 Tips for Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children 
       3. Academic Giftedness   Like every child, intellectually gifted children need love, support, structure, and challenge to reach their potential. Unfortunately, the needs of gifted children can often get a bit neglected, especially when teachers are preoccupied with assisting struggling students. Testing for academic giftedness can help you become an informed advocate for your child. By learning about their abilities and development, you can work with the school to ensure they provide a stimulating environment for your child.   4. Autism Spectrum Disorder   Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological condition that can impact your child’s motor skills, sensory perception, language development, emotional health, and social life. Each of these areas have a significant impact on their academic performance and mental well-being. As its name suggests, autism displays itself in a variety of ways across a wide spectrum; if you suspect that your child may be showing signs, it’s  important that they be evaluated. Once a child is diagnosed with autism, there are many effective methods teachers can use to support their learning.   5. Anxiety Disorders   Anxiety can present itself in different ways – your child may have an irrational fear of hurricanes, worry excessively over tests, or avoid social situations at all costs. Whatever the cause of their worry, anxiety can impact their academic performance, physical health, and emotional well-being. Getting your child tested for anxiety can help you in working with your child’s school to understand their challenges and provide them with the emotional support they need to manage their symptoms in the classroom.       
 
	 Check out our blog on how to STOP anxiety in its tracks 
       6. Trauma   While most parents try their best to protect their children from troubling experiences, it’s inevitable that children are sometimes exposed to traumatizing situations. If your child has gone through something traumatic, whether it be surviving a car accident, witnessing your recent divorce, or losing a loved one, they may need support in learning healthy ways to cope. Consulting with a specialist can help your child learn effective and healthy ways to overcome trauma and get back to focusing on school, friends, and fun.   Visit Variations    If you think your child might benefit from educational consulting or psychological evaluation, Variations can help. From testing, walking you through the IEP or 504, or advocating for your child on campus, Variations can support you r family every step of the way.     Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D ., is an expert in child and educational psychology. She provides educational consulting to evaluate each child’s emotional and behavioral development and assess if there are other factors such as learning or attention differences that may impact their academic experience. Dr. Shinn works with parents and children to overcome obstacles and help children strive for their academic potential and emotional well-being.     
 
	  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).  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.

School’s Out – Should I Get My Kid Tested?

All parents want their children to learn in a fair and enriching environment, but that doesn’t look the same for every child. Students struggling with academic, social, or emotional challenges may require additional support to help them reach their potential. In most cases, however, students can only receive special accommodations if they’ve been tested for eligibility by a licensed specialist.

But all students face challenges in one way or another – how does a parent know if their child should see a specialist?