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Posts tagged cognitive
5 Proven Benefits of Play

Summer has come to an end and children are back in school. Back to school means waking up early, attending school, working on homework, doing extracurricular activities, and then off to bed early. This routine is beneficial for a growing child, but who is setting aside time for play? With all of these important obligations, are children getting the time they need to let loose and play? “5 Proven Benefits of Play,” written by Anya Kamenetz, reminds parents, teachers, and pediatricians of the importance of play and how it can help the development of children.  

1.     Play is essential for healthy brain development.

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Just as adults use puzzles and crosswords to exercise our brains, children can use play to help develop their brains. Brain-derived neurotrophic factors, or BDNF, allows the brain to grow and develop healthy connections. Studies have proven that play, such as roughhousing and tussling around, can change the expression of genes to increase the production of BDNF. 30 minutes a day of this kind of play can encourage proper development of the brain.

2.     Play reduces obesity and associated diseases.

Just as adults go to the gym to stay in shape, children need to exercise and play in order to stay in shape. A child who plays a lot at a young age, the more likely they are to be active and healthy adults. At least one hour of play outdoors has proven signification improvement in body mass index. A study showed that “children who actively play outside are 42 percent less likely to be overweight.”

3.     Play helps children manage stress and even recover from trauma.

Most adults are aware of the term “self-care”. Practicing self-care is a way to increase your health and well-being. Similarly, a study showed that children who play regularly, one-on-one with a teacher, taking their own lead, improves behavior and reduces cortisol, a stress hormone. The connection built between the child and teacher is known as “banking time,” the building of a warm, relationship.

4.     Play helps families bond.

Just as “banking time” builds relationships with teachers, it also builds relationships with families. “Hirsh-Pasek points out ‘the conversation with kids that come out in play are brain-builders.’” Playing allows children to regulate their emotions by “getting on the same page” as others they are playing with. This connection can help children in their future when they are faced with difficult situations.

5.     Play contributes to academic skills.

When children play using their imagination, they are developing their language development, general knowledge, and intrinsic motivation. This development leads to improved test scores. By connecting objects, words, and feelings, children are building STEM learning skills, which will benefit their education.  

Life can be busy and overwhelming at times. This blog is a reminder to let your child play. Not only does it release energy so bed time is easier, but it has many proven benefits for your child ranging from brain development, social skills, and academic improvement.

If you have questions about children development please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services. 

~Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: Kamenetz, Anya. “5 Proven Benefits Of Play.” NPR, NPR, 31 Aug. 2018, www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/08/31/642567651/5-proven-benefits-of-play.

9 Things Parents Can Say to Defuse a Meltdown With Compassion

Of course you love your children, but aren't they just so good at pushing your buttons? It's easy to get frustrated when your children are demanding impossible requests or continue to do the one thing you asked them not to over and over. Thoughts may cross your mind such as, "I brought you into this world, I can take you out," (although you would never say that aloud). Your first reaction may be to raise your voice and punish your child, however this article will prepare you with 9 sayings to use when your child is having a meltdown that get the point across while still using compassion. 

It is important to reinforce connection, not separation. Vanessa Lapointe suggests "discipline without damage". Based off of science, and the way a child's brain develops, we want to build children who are hardy, not hardened. Children who are hardy have the ability to overcome to struggles of life, while children who are hardened cannot, and instead shut down using poor coping skills. Below are 9 sayings found on Lapointe's Disciple Cheat Sheet to help change the way you defuse a difficult situation with your child. 

1. Instead of: "What were you thinking?" 
Say: "I'm going to help you with this."

2. Instead of: "How many times do I have to tell you?"
Say: "I'm going to do (__) so that it will be easier for you." 

3. Instead of: "Stop it! You're embarrassing me!"
Say: "Let's go to a quieter place to get this sorted out."

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4. Instead of: "If you don't stop that, no Xbox for a week!"
Say: "I can see this is tricky for you. We're going to solve this later. Let's get a drink of water first."

5. Instead of: "Go to your room."
Say: "Come here, I've got you."

6. Instead of: "No stars on the star chart for you!"
Say: "Let's figure out a better way for next time."

7.  Instead of: "Stop. That. Right. NOW!"
Say: "If you need to get your mad out- then go ahead. It's okay. I've got you."

8. Instead of: *Silent eye-roll and frustration sigh*
Say: *Kindness in our eyes and compassionate hair tousle*

9. Instead of: "You are IMPOSSIBLE!"
Say: "We will get this figured out. I can handle ALL of you. It's all good."

The key to defusing a meltdown is to use different tactics from the Disciple Cheat Sheet. When your toddler does something, such as color on the wall, instead of yelling, begin by maintaining a calm voice and saying "You know we aren't supposed to color on the wall, let's get this cleaned up." If your toddler fights back, stay calm and move to another tactic, "I can see this is tricky for you, we're going to solve this later. Let's get a drink of water." It may take time, but eventually your child will calm down, and that is when you can show them how to get the color off of the wall. Your child still learns their actions have consequences, but you were able to get your point across without raising your voice. 

Children's brains have not developed impulse control, therefore no amount of yelling will change the brain's wiring. The phrases above work best for young children, but you can use the same idea of compassion to get your point across with older children and adults. When using these phrases, it is important to remain confident, all-knowing, and in charge, in order to avoid helicoptering your child. Although it may take time for the parent to refer to these phrases before getting frustrated, remember that "It's okay. I've got you," may be exactly what your child needs to hear. 

If you have questions about using compassion and the good affects it can have on you and your child or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services

~Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: Porter, Evan. “9 Things Parents Can Say to Defuse a Meltdown with Compassion.”Upworthy, Cloud Tiger Media Inc., 21 July 2017.

How ADHDers Get Stuff Done

Against popular belief, people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) don't always have problems with attention. It is easier to concentrate on something that excites them, therefore, when they find someone they like, they have the ability to hyperfocus for hours. Although it is 10 times harder for people with ADHD to learn basic learning and organizational skills, they are known to be better businessmen because they are required to learn the skills that other people adapt to naturally. In other words, they are built to tackle business challenges. Due to the difficulty of concentrating, people with ADHD often have the best advice of how to successfully get stuff done. 

Below are 21 productivity tips from people with ADHD that can help people, even without ADHD, get stuff done. 

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1. Getting into the habit of a routine can allow for less brainpower on little things, which can lead to an easier start to the day. 
2. Always have a back up. Bring extras of everything important so that no matter when or where you need a phone charger or more meds, you know where to find it. 
3. Reminders and alerts keep your day on track and don't require memory because the device remembers for you. 
4. Learn how long it takes you to complete certain tasks, and factor that into your daily calendar. 
5. Figure what schedule works best for you and use it to your advantage. Complete active tasks when you have the most energy and calming tasks when you feel most relaxed. Learn your ups and downs. 
6. Finding a rhythm, such as counting or beats, can help complete a task. 
7. Making different to-do lists and breaking them down for different tasks can help prioritize what needs to be completed first. 
8. Being able to measure your progress in a hands on way can help give you drive to continue completing tasks.
9. Reward yourself for your accomplishments, no matter how big or small. This can keep your dopamine level and productivity at an all time high.
10. Turn boring daily tasks, such as daily steps, into a game to make it more interesting. 
11. When completing a boring task, think about the satisfaction of completing the task rather than the time it will take. 
12. Complete tasks right away before you let them pile up. The longer you wait, the harder it is to complete. 
13. Visual cues are instant reminders. Use sticky notes or other reminders to keep you alert and on time. 
14. Don't fight your instincts. If you often misplace something in the same spot, make that spot their new home. There is a reason you subconsciously continue to put them there. 
15. Everyone's brain is different. Take the time to make your own to-do lists so you are not frustrated by someone else telling you how to complete a task. 
16. Movement helps your brain work better. Taking a break every now and then can give you a new perspective. 
17. Give yourself time to complete a task. Know when to call it quits for the day and start fresh tomorrow. This will save you more time in the long run. 
18. Identify your flaws and strengths and use them to your advantage. By communicating them with others, your colleagues will be able to benefit from you greatly. 
19. It is important to remember, everyone is fighting their own battles. Don't forget to forgive yourself and others when things don't go as planned. 
20. Set a goal, but remember it's okay if you didn't finish it. There's always tomorrow. 
21. "Try again. Fall again. Fail better." - Samuel Beckett. Failure will happen, but it's how we learn from it that keeps us going. 

It is important to remember that success is never handed to you. It is something we all must work towards, even if it is harder to achieve for some people. Embrace your strengths and weaknesses and keep trying until you find what works for you. 

If you have questions about ADHD and how it can affect you or your child or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services

Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: Dunn, T. (2016). What 8 Successful ADHDers Want You to Know about How They Get Stuff Done. Upworthy. 

How to minimize your "Shoulds"

Too many "shoulds" equals too much guilt. If you've been following Hilber Psychological Services, you already read the post about "Too Much Guilt" and you already know that "shoulds" are thinking mistakes or cognitive distortions and they move us further away from our happiness.  There's a place and time for guilt, but making our daily choices each day typically does not require excess guilt. We want to feel more empowered and "in control" of our decisions, feelings, actions, and our lives in general. So, you know that you need to limit your "Should" statements, but how do you actually decrease your "should" statements?

The first step is to be aware of statements that include "shoulds." The next step is to empower your decision making and take control of your choices. This is an easy activity you can do to minimize your use of "Should" statements.

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You make millions of choices everyday. These range from minute choices to larger, life-changing decisions. These include what time you're going to wake up, whether you get out of bed at the first alarm or snooze it, how long you shower, if you shower in the morning, what you eat for breakfast, and if you sit down at the table to eat. We haven't even left the house yet. This means that you also have millions of choices to practice being aware, and accepting each choice you make. You have also had experience with these choices so accepting these small choices will probably be easy for you to practice with.

Each time you make a decision, even a small choice such as what shirt you wear, you can state, "this is my choice, I accept this," or "I choose this decision," or even "this is mine to make, I accept it." Or any variation thereof. The important part is to tell yourself that the choice is yours (awareness) and to accept that it's yours to make.

Now I know you cannot possibly do this for each and every decision you make or you may not make it out of the house in time, but try to do it as many times as possible. You can say this in your head or out loud for others to hear.

By the end of the week, note how often you're able to make a decision without shoulds or guilt and how empowered you feel. Can you imagine how good it will feel if you choose and accept your bigger decisions?

For more information, contact us at Hilber Psychological Services.