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Broken Brain

Mark Hyman MD is the Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author. At the peak of his career, he suffered a broken brain, causing him to turn into someone he no longer recognized. He felt like he suffered from depression, ADD, and dementia all at once. 

The epidemic of the broken brain is something you feel, hide, and fear. It is the leading cause of disability and effects 1.1 billion people around the world. 1 in 6 children, 1 in 2 elderly, and 1 in 4 people during their lifetime are effected by this epidemic. Mark Hyman MD created a docuseries, Broken Brain, to help transform your understanding of brain health. It is a series describing everything he learned on his journey to curing his broken brain, as well as diving in to the top brain disorders and learning why they happen and how to address their main root causes. This docuseries reveals what conditions like Alzheimer's, Dementia, ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, and Brain Fog have in common. Many root causes of brain disorders are outside of the brain. The rest of the body can play a huge part on mood, memory, attention, and behavior problems. 

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Of all the highlights and benefits learned from this eight episode series, here are the top 5 take aways Mark Hyman MD and his team learned from the Broken Brain docuseries. 

1. The Gut-Brain Connection
According to Dr. Raphael Kellman, gut and brain expert, "Embryologically, the gut and the brain start out at the same point, and then one goes up and one goes down. When two cells start from the same place, they always retain a memory for each other. They’re constantly speaking to each other in so many different ways. They’re communicating messages to each other. These messages are part of a communication system that really outshines any type of communication system that we know of today with our modern technology." The gut is considered your second brain. Therefore, a healthy gut leads to a healthy brain. By keeping our intestines and microbiome healthy and clean, our brain will remain healthy. 

2. Brain Health is Connected to Blood Sugar
Blood sugar is related to a healthy brain, especially memory loss. Experts are calling Alzheimer's type 3 diabetes. Dr. Ann Hathaway states, "When your blood sugar is high, it pumps your insulin high, and insulin is inflammatory. Inflammation is a major factor in cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Also, high blood sugar causes something called glycation, where the proteins throughout your body, including in your brain, get a sugar molecule added to them. That addition of a sugar molecule to a protein is damaging—that’s actual damage to that particular molecule in your brain." It is important to keep your blood sugar low so that no additional sugar molecules damage your brain. 

3. The Thyroid and Your Brain
An unhealthy thyroid can cause anxiety, depression, brain fog, and many other mental health disorders. Dr. Izabella Wentz suggests, "For people with Hashimoto’s and for thyroid disease, focus on eating a whole-food-based diet that’s minimally processed. I’ve seen the most benefit from patients going on a Paleo diet, as well as the Autoimmune Paleo Diet. We see symptoms like headaches, panic attacks, palpitations, weight gain, fatigue, all these symptoms begin to melt away when we get rid of the reactive foods and focus on eating organic, wild-caught, and real foods." 

4. The Role of Fats in Brain Health
A low-fat diet is not always the answer. By avoiding all fats, we avoid the good fats. Dr. John Ratey states "omega-3 fatty acids are perhaps as good a treatment for things like bipolar illness as are some of our bipolar drugs. With that came a whole lot of research looking at omega-3s as a way to treat mood, anxiety, ADD, and autism. It has a positive effect on all of those pervasive problems. Plus, it’s great for the heart, skin, bones, the connections in our body, and also treats arthritis and the like.” Don't cheat yourself of the fats your body and brain need to stay healthy.

5. The Role of Community in Brain Health
One of the biggest take aways these experts had from this docuseries is the importance of community. According to John Ratey, "real connection is vital, and I call this vitamin O—vitamin oxytocin. Oxytocin is the thing that mammals get when they’re in a community, touching one another, hugging, and they’re sitting down eating together. That sharing, that social bonding that happens, that glue that cements us together is really important." As we grow older, it is important to remember to take our prescribed medicine, get exercise, but most importantly stay social and connected to your community. 

Watch the entire 8 episode docuseries for free to learn more about your brain health. Watch episode 4 to learn more about ADHD and autism. Watch episode 5 to learn more about anxiety and depression.

If you have questions about these services and how they 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: Hyman, Mark. “5 Things We Learned from the Broken Brain Docuseries.” Dr. Mark Hyman, Hyman Digital, 5 Jan. 2018, drhyman.com/blog/2017/10/27/5-things-learned-broken-brain-docuseries/.

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.

The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 9: Acts of Service

Last week, I discussed the final love language of children, acts of service, based on the book “The Five Love Languages of Children” by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. In case you missed it, please follow the links below to read previous posts about the various love languages of children:

  1. Physical Touch (Part 1 and Part 2)
  2. Words of Affirmation (Part 1 and Part 2)
  3. Quality Time (Part 1 and Part 2)
  4. Gifts
  5. Acts of Service (Part 1)

Today, I will continue to discuss the final love language of children, acts of service, to provide some tips, tricks, and tidbits on how to incorporate acts of service into a parent-child relationship.

Love language

It is easy for parents to have hopes, wishes, and dreams for their children. A part of incorporating acts of service into a parent-child relationship is a parent’s acknowledgement that the child is not an extension of the parent, but rather an individual. This means that it is important for parents to allow their children to develop their own skills, abilities, and goals without the parents pushing their own unfulfilled wishes or desires upon their children. A parent’s goal is to help guide a child and give the child room to explore their own autonomy. This does not include giving a child a detailed map stating what the rest of the child’s life will look like.

For children whose primary love language is acts of service, requesting help from a parent is more about creating a connection then receiving the help. Because it is about connection for the child, a parent’s response may negatively impact the parent-child relationship.

For example, an adolescent approaches his mother while she is reading and asks, “Mom, will you cook me breakfast?” Without looking up, his mother snaps to him, “No you know how to cook it yourself.” In this instance, the son was not just asking for food, but to engage with his mother. This response may leave the son feeling defeated and upset. Parents do not need to jump at every request but should remain sensitive a child’s requests and recognize that it is motivated by a child’s need for connection.

Instead of snapping at her child in the above example, an alternative response may have looked more like this: “I’m sorry, I cannot cook right now. Would it be okay if you made something yourself and then we can do something together later?” In this way, the mother is still denying the request, however, she is also addressing her son’s need to connect.

As a parent, when providing acts of service for a child, it is important to help a child regardless of the child’s behavior. For example, some parents may feel that they can only help a child when the child behaves well and may choose not to help a child if a child is behaving poorly. This will ultimately teach a child that love is conditional and must be earned. This is not a message a parent should teach a child - love is unconditional, and therefore, a parent’s role is to support and help a child as needed, whether the child has had a good day or a bad day.

Below is a list of tips, tricks, and tidbits to help parents connect with a child whose love language is acts of service:

  • Children will notice a parent who does things for others out of love, not obligation, and will model this behavior
  • For younger children, have them help with chores or cooking. This will not only show the child skills for future independence, but will also allow parent and child to connect with one another
  • As children get older, engage in the community together such as through volunteering and/or walking for awareness or a cause
  • Respond to a child’s request - not react. If a parent refuses a child, pushes the child away, or responds to a child in a harsh or critical tone, it may impact the child’s emotional tank

And remember, a parent does not need to say “yes” to a child’s every request. However, a parent should try to remain sensitive to a child’s request, recognize it as a bid for connection, and respond in a gentle manner.

If you enjoyed reading about the five love languages of children and would like to learn how to incorporate these languages into your own relationship with your child, therapy can be a safe space to explore these connections. From individual therapy, to family therapy, to couples therapy, there are lots of ways to create connection and explore specific and unique patterns within a family. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us.

No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 4

Last week, I began to discuss the second of three principles, Chasing the Why, in the article “No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 3.” These three principles, based on the book “No Drama Discipline” by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, examine how parents can connect with their children during discipline, utilizing the moment to teach a child rather than make a child feel bad. To learn about the foundation of No Drama Discipline, please review articles “No Drama Discipline: The Foundation, Part 1,” and “No Drama Discipline: The Foundation, Part 2.” To review the first principle in No Drama Discipline, Turning Down the Shark Music, please refer to the articles “No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 1” and “No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 2.” A parent’s goal throughout discipline is to play the role of a detective. Chasing the Why asks parents to internally ask themselves, “what is my child trying to communicate through his or her behavior?” By remaining curious about a child’s behavior, a parent allows him or herself to look into a child’s internal state rather than the external behavior.

Let’s review an example of what discipline may look like utilizing the connection principle, Chasing the Why.

Dave is a single parent raising 12yo Alice. Alice has always been a good student and Dave hopes that Alice will follow in his footsteps to become a lawyer. One day, Dave receives a phone call from the school stating that Alice has been disruptive in class by frequently talking to classmates. Embarrassed about the call, Dave begins to become anxious. He imagines Alice's grades dropping and her future jeopardized. For Dave, his shark music regarding his own fears for his daughter’s future become louder. Instead of letting the shark music grow, Dave takes a deep breath to clear his head. He allows himself to become curious as he asks Alice questions about her behaviors rather than make assumptions about the motivation behind them. He may begin by asking Alice, “Alice, tell me about your day,” to first connect with Alice. Dave may then ask Alice specific questions about the conversation with Alice’s teacher. “Alice, I heard from your teacher today. She seems to think that you have been more talkative in class than usual. Tell me a little about that.”

By taking the time to explore the reasons behind the child’s behavior, a parent may be surprised from what the child’s motivation is rather than the parent’s own perceived motivation. In the above scenario, Alice may reply that she has been more talkative because she recently made a new friend, or that her friend had a bad day and she wanted to make her feel better. The parent will still have to help the child learn strategies to handle these situations in an appropriate manner, however, by chasing the why the parent is creating a way to connect with the child rather than dismissing the child and missing the opportunity to understand the child’s motivation for the behavior.

Tips and Tricks: It is important for parents not to directly ask, “Why did you do this?” For many children (and even adults) asking “why” can cause defensiveness in those being asked. Furthermore, depending on the age of the child, the child may not be at a developmental level where he or she could tell you the motivation for the behavior. It is not uncommon for parents to hear “I don’t know” when asking a child about an event. Try asking open-ended questions (i.e. “What did you do in school today?”) instead of closed-ended questions (i.e. “Did you get into trouble today?"). Closed-ended questions will limit the interaction between parent and child.

Chasing the why is asking parents to ask “why” in their own heads in order to create that curiosity and let that open mindset guide the conversation. In this way parents can begin to not only address the external concerns, or behaviors, but look into the child’s internal concerns, or the root cause underneath the behavior, to prevent future problematic behaviors.

If you would like more support in parenting your child, whether in couples therapy or individual therapy, please do not hesitate to contact us at Hilber Psychological Services to explore options. Therapy can be a great way for parents to discuss personal concerns that may get in the way of parenting. If you have any general questions, please visit our FAQ.

Tune back next time as we examine the third and final principle, Think About the How based on the book “No Drama Discipline” by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.