3 Ways You Can Prevent Christmas Melt-Downs

With the holiday season quickly approaching, it’s important to remember that all the extra shopping, fun activities, school programs, family gatherings and overall high level of anticipation are often accompanied with an increase in stress. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you and your family cope with this busy time.

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  1. Discuss holiday plans in advance. If possible, include your child in the planning process. Children respond better to predictability. Impromptu plans, uncertainty, and last minute changes can escalate stress.
  2. As much as possible, try to maintain regular routines for meals, naps, and bedtime. Lack of adequate rest can contribute to increased irritability.
  3. Set realistic expectations for your family and don’t overschedule. Be reasonable about time commitments. Pace yourself and don’t get overloaded with obligations. You may not be able to do everything and see everyone you’d like.

Most importantly, be a good role model. You are your child’s first and most important teacher. The way you handle holiday stress sends an important message to your children. Let them know that it’s okay to be less than perfect. Be kind and forgiving to yourself; laugh at your own mistakes. Encourage physical exercise and fresh air. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and limit alcohol/food indulgence.

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11 Dec 2014

How to Choose Consequences that Work

Often I am approached by parents who ask me the question “How do I choose consequences that work”.  I believe that the consequences that parents choose are not nearly as important as the way in which they are delivered. Setting limits with clear rules, using respectful and supportive communication along with separating the child from their behavior are much more important than exactly following the child rearing strategies set out by the therapeutic community.   

I often make this point by sharing a childhood story where my father didn’t tie the consequences directly to the incident. He didn’t ask me to process my feelings or understanding of the situation.  He created a swift clear punishment and followed it up with positive reinforcement.

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My father was an authoritative man. A tall, impressive military sergeant who commanded respect but also cared for me and those he led. When we stepped too far out of line, he would intervene.  On this day, I was mad at my younger sister. I began to antagonize her to get even, then got frustrated and hit her. My dad calmly and with disappointment stated, “Bob, you hit your sister.”

I responded defensively and unapologetically, “It was her fault, she was in my stuff.” I knew that wouldn’t be enough to stop his support of her, so I continued “Why do you always take her side?” 

My father simply countered calmly and with remorse, “I don’t think you want to be the kind of man that hits women.”  I wanted to talk my way out of this incident, to blame her. I was angry, unremorseful and felt he was being unfair.  For my father there was nothing to talk about. On this day, my father was not redirecting my behavior, he was handing out punishment.  I wasn’t to be the kind of man who hit women. Period.   

Dad went to the closet, got the field gear bag and said. “I have a job for you and this needs to be done before you play any video games.” He dumped a huge pile of muddy field combat boots on the porch. He went on to explain, “These need to be polished and set in a row. After you’re done, you can play your games.  Come get me when you’re finished.

I was an army brat so I know how to shine a boot.  This was a big job and it was going to keep me busy until after dinner. I knew my father would follow through.  I wasn’t going to enjoy my evening without cooperating with the punishment. Yet I was proud and needed to rebel.  So I did my punishment acting as if it had no impact on me. I kept hoping he would come to his senses and see that his arbitrary demand didn’t work. It wasn’t causing me to be remorseful or apologetic or seeing the errors of my ways.  My father didn’t force me to do any of those things. He asked that the shoes were polished.  Yet he wasn’t just punishing me, I would get to play my video games after it was done.  I knew that this would be over soon, if I would just complete my task.  So I polished and grumbled.  I told myself, this wasn’t all my fault. I wasn’t apologizing for anything.  And I kept on shining the shoes and replaying what had happened over and over in my mind.  A few hours later covered with shoe polish I headed for the living room and the television so that I could begin my quest to save the Princess from King Cooper. 

My father seeing that I had stopped stated with a nonjudgmental tone, “Oh are you done already?” He decided to pick his battles and not bring it to my attention that I hadn’t informed him that I had completed the job.  “Yea,” I replied as I remembered that I was to get him when I was finished. “Let’s go see em.” Dad commanded with a positive optimistic tone.   I scrambled to show him the boots, hoping that nothing would get in the way of my rejoining my video games.

boots

As we looked at the boots all standing in a row, my Dad picked out a couple pairs. He praised me for how they looked. Showing them to me and explaining how I had done a good job he stated, “This is what we are looking for.” After showing me what I had done properly, he also picked two pair of boots and said “Now these boots will get you a couple more miles to run in physical training” he compared the quality of my work and demonstrated how to make an improvement before asking me to improve my work on the last pair. The entire interaction was positive and there was no discussion of what I had done wrong or the remorse I should be feeling. In fact I actually ended up with more praise from the punishment than any actual reprimand.

So the basic question is…… why as a counselor do I believe that this was a successful parenting technique that helped me to learn anything what so ever?

Why This Consequence Worked

My father identified what I had done wrong without being overly harsh or judgmental when he said “Bob you hit your sister.”  When my father confronted me and delivered the punishment, he was disappointed rather than anger or shaming.  Although I was not to be the kind of man that hit women, his disappointment was with my actions rather than with me as a person.  He was sad and remorseful that he found it necessary to take action.  When I attempted to argue, rather than allow me to do so or insisting that I accept “blame,” he separated who I was from my behavior.  There was no attempt to call me an abuser or the meanest monster of a brother. There simply was a mistake that needed to be corrected.

 My father also gave me room to be strong willed and somewhat defiant without escalating the situation.  He focused his request on completing the assigned task and made it clear that once I was done I could return to doing things that I enjoyed. He did not react when I showed no remorse, was angry or acted like the punishment didn’t both me.  This lack of concern about my attitude allowed us to stay focused on how I treat my sister and women rather than creating a conflict over how I accepted the consequences.

I was motivated to move forward with shining the shoes because I believed that he would follow through and because I knew that I could enjoy my video games once I was done.  He showed no concern with whether or not shining the shoes frustrated me or not.  His expectations were clear.  Shine the boots.  I had no question about what was expected and I knew that I would get what I wanted as soon as I completed the task.  I also had several hours to focus on what I had done.  

When I didn’t check in with him after I was done, he didn’t focus on my mistake. He simply stated “Oh, are you done already?” and went to the boots to inspect them. At this point he was able to decrease my frustration with his punishment by focusing on my success.  I had done a good job of polishing the boots.  By focusing on the quality of the job I had done, he was able to reinforce that he believed in me, reduce the frustration between us, and give praise for a job well done.  By keeping it simple, we both knew that I understood what I had done wrong.  He didn’t need to make sure that I understood why I had been disciplined.  He didn’t embarrass or shame me by making sure that I described my indiscretion with the appropriate remorse or explanation what I had learned.  There was no need from me to get defensive or resent our final interactions because they were all positive reinforcement of a job well done rather than lessons learned.   

Sometimes parents forget that the way we respond to a problem is often more important than choosing the perfect consequence for our children.  When we model respectful accurate supportive communication, our actions are teaching our children just as much as our response to the problematic behavior.  When we show them we love them and not their behavior, we can allow them to respond less than perfectly without repercussions. When we retain a positive connection with our children throughout, we have reinforced what we are teaching with a positive foundation that enhances compliance and allows cooperation.

Want to learn more from Bob? Call 317-471-8780 for an appointment now!

 

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04 Dec 2014

5 Ways to Conquer OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is fear run amuck.  At the deepest core level, gripping fears take hold in the mind.  Desperate for control, the mind grasps for control through rituals.  These rituals are designed to try and prevent the feared event from taking place.  Over time, the cycle of fear, control, and ritual can completely dominate a person’s life spinning it out of control. It can feel impossible to conquer OCD.

happy girl

I know.  I lived in the vice grip of OCD for over a decade.  There is hope.  I no longer qualify for the diagnosis of OCD.  However, I know full well how I could go back there if I didn’t do the things that keep me healthy.

5 Ways to Conquer OCD

Here’s what I have learned about kicking OCD:

#1:   When I eat sugar, my brain goes in overdrive and my emotions take a dive and anxiety sores.  Sugar includes foods that are fast acting carbs like white bread and pasta.  My mom figured this out by reading, “New Low Blood Sugar and You” by Carlton Frederick.  She saved my life.  Later in grad school, I found more research to back it up, in the book BrainLock by Jeffery Schwartz.  He studied brain scans and proved that people with OCD process glucose differently.

#2:  I have to believe truth over lies.  Lies about what might happen in the future can take over my life in a heartbeat.  I have to stay mindful and grateful in the present for the safety that I am currently in.  For me this is a spiritual process.  I ask God to handle the fight.  I realized a long time ago that I cannot argue and win with OCD.  If I begin to argue and try to intellectualize OCD thoughts, they will win every time. 

#3:  I have to follow a routine of a fairly regular bedtime and wakeup time with about 8 hours of sleep.  I don’t mean this rigidly to the minute or that I never splurge and catch a few minutes of shut eye or never stay up late, but consistency is key to my health. 

#4:  I have to exercise at least 3 times a week.  For me I love to swim.  I hit the pool 3 x a week for about 20 minutes.  Exercise increases dopamine, the “happy” chemicals in the brain. 

#5:  I have to deal with the fears I carry from childhood that fuel the fears of the present.  Counseling, journaling, prayer, and talking with friends have been an important part of the process.

So that’s what I know about how to conquer OCD.  There is hope.  OCD sufferers can find healing.  It’s not done overnight, but it can be done.

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19 Nov 2014

On line Dating: Purgatory or Heaven

Having trouble with on-line dating?   People not writing you back, attracting people you cannot stand, getting lied to, and just feeling it’s a useless exercise.  Then you want to listen to Amy Webb’s TED TALK: How I Hacked On Line Dating.   Amy refused to give up.  She figured out what her dream man was like.  She found how to quickly tell whether to keep talking with specific men.   Researched what compatible men like in a woman and looked at her competition.  Gradually, she began to understand why interesting men were not contacting her.  She began to make changes that honored her integrity while getting the right men’s attention.  Eventually she ended up marrying the man of her dreams. 

One of the biggest complaints I hear from singles is the difficulty in finding quality people to date.  With modern technology, it is so easy to treat each other poorly that people are doing it out of laziness.  As more and more people show so little regard for each other, the experience of internet dating is becoming less and less rewarding. Clearly significant numbers of people are finding each other on the net, but the process is causing many people to no longer participate. 

Amy Webb decided to fight back.  She did it in her own way.  I suggest you listen to her funny and interesting story.  Few people will want to do it her way.  However, I expect most people to get a few ideas from her along with some hope and encouragement.  Good luck and enjoy.  

 

05 Nov 2014

What Is Adult ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder does not just impact child it also impacts adults. It can be costly to employers and devastating to relationships if not properly identified and treated. While problems with attention focus and memory can be due to other disorders it is important to have an assessment discussing your symptoms, and history of previous treatment along with family history.

Adults with ADHD often feel alone they do not understand why they have operated relatively well just to later find themselves coping with symptoms ineffectively. Adults commonly aren’t sure what to do because they believe they have already mastered the skills at a younger age or think they have grown out of the disorder. Sometimes symptoms can become more significant due to life changes, stressors or compounded by other medical or emotional disorders.

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Symptoms of Adult ADHD can be some of the following: Difficulties getting organized, chronic lateness, forgetting details or appointments, distractibility, lack of motivation, impulsiveness in decision making or behavior may appear to be reckless, difficulties controlling anger, mood swings, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression all of which can result in negative impact on employment and in relationships.

Many adults will suffer with symptoms of ADHD far longer than they should preferring to think of their issues and symptoms as a childhood disorder, preferring to sometimes take antianxiety or antidepressant medications without every really understanding the cause of their symptoms or strategies that can be helpful for them. Others develop counterproductive self-care habits which includes the abuse of drugs and alcohol. Adults with ADHD often would like to believe that they have “grown out” of their disorder because having been diagnosed in childhood made them feel like they were not as smart as other people or that having ADHD somehow suggested their intelligence was negatively impacted. While research suggests to us that those with ADHD are just as smart and even sometimes gifted.

If you have been diagnosed with ADHD as a child and begin to suffer from increased symptoms in adulthood, after having experienced a period of functioning with minimal symptoms; meaning your symptoms are beginning to increase and they are effecting your work and significant relationships it can be extreamly beneficial to find the support of a therapist who can help you to find new coping skills, sooner rather than later. Getting help can prevent one from meeting criteria for diagnosis of depressive and anxiety disorders.

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22 Oct 2014

Why Does My Kid Do Great at School and Act Out at Home?

It is 4:00PM, and after school snack time.  It feels like you have not been home more than a few minutes, when your child has some form of a meltdown about something minor such as the snack options, starting homework, or for no apparent reason at all.  Does your child seem to hold it together well at school but then fall apart at home?  Do you repeatedly feel surprised when your child’s teacher has nothing but positive reports?  Many of us have either dealt with this personally, or have heard the stories of other parents who have.  

After school melt down

Possible Reasons for After School Melt-downs:

First or all, it is natural and healthy to evaluate this and consider all the possibilities why.  There are certainly times where this is in some way a result of a strained parent-child relationship and/or a need to alter one’s parenting style to better suit the needs of the child.  However, it is also possible that this holds no reflection on your parenting.  Let’s consider all the factors that often go into behavior such as this…

  1. Home is SAFE.  Your child may see home as a safe place to be able to let it all out.  (Though of course, we sometimes wish they wouldn’t let it ALL out).  It is very possible your child worked very hard to keep it together at school and is DONE by the time they reach home.  At least you can be glad that they are not displaying this behavior at school!
  2. Is your child INTROVERTED?  This is another reason that your child may have held it together at school (because being the center of attention, especially negative attention is far from a fave past time of introverts), but then they are exhausted by the time they reach home.  Introverts can be around and enjoy others company, but this drains their energy.  We all know how we get, especially kids, when we are tired!
  3. What does the TEACHER say?  The teacher may have some valid observations since they do see your child in group settings.  Consider how the teacher manages your child’s behavior and if there are strategies you can utilize from them.  Also, consider if there may in fact be issues at school that are overlooked, such as depression or anxiety that are not easily noticed because the child is not acting out.
  4. Lastly, consider your RELATIONSHIP with your child.  It is not uncommon for parents to go through a difficult time with their child at some point during their development.  Is your child’s behavior mostly in response to you? 

What to Do About It?

If the first two, then it would help to provide a calm and relaxing environment and some down time after school.  You may also want to be cautious about bombarding your child with questions at this time, and instead ensure they know you are there to listen if need be.  Lastly, as they get older, it is good to educate them on these needs and how to manage them.  Seek some outside assistance if it becomes too difficult to manage.

If the latter two, then you may try out some different parenting strategies.  Ask yourself if your expectations are reasonable.  Ask yourself if you are “picking your battles.”  Who cares if your child wants to wear two different color socks to go out and play?  This may also be a good time to seek some outside assistance to help as well.  Everyone needs help every so often!
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15 Oct 2014

Our New Name Captures Our Identity

It’s official! Enjoy the press release:

Indianapolis, Indiana: This month, Integrative Health Resources, a counseling practice on the northside of Indianapolis, announced they are changing their name to Gydo: Therapy and Wellness Strategies. After winning the Fishers Flashpoint Business Competition and experiencing rapid growth over the past year, IHR realized their evolving identity needed a new name. Gydo, taken from the Japanese word gaido, means to guide. Gydo: Therapy and Wellness Strategies offers expert, professional guidance in many arenas, including navigating life changes, child custody evaluations, drug and alcohol evaluations and treatment, as well as individual, couples and family therapy.

The new name reflects the energy and direction of the company. “The name change captures the vision of what I initially set out to accomplish when I first opened my practice in the early 1990’s. Gydo encompasses more than just traditional therapy approaches, it also embraces wellness strategies and techniques that focuses on the total individual or family instead of just symptomology.” stated Allen Rader, LCSW and Executive Director of Gydo. Gydo offers customized, tailored approaches to Indianapolis and surrounding area residents designed to help them discover the best their life has to offer.

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About Gydo: Therapy and Wellness Strategies: Gydo has been providing quality individual, couples and family therapy since 2011. Their team includes nine different counselors, each with particular expertise. Under the name Integrative Health Resources, Gydo won the Flashpoint Business Competition in April 2014.

08 Oct 2014

Suicides Leave Two Questions Behind

Last week a prominent artist in a community I belong to committed suicide on Thursday. I know him only through stories from my friends and the amazing art he created for the Indiana CORE Project last year (see image below). Watching my friends reactions reminds me of just how terrible suicide related grief really is.

suicide artist

Grieving Someone Who Committed Suicide

Every death of a human being sucks, hurts deeply and shifts things for those who know them. Suicide, in my experience, is the worst of the worst for those left behind. No death is easy. No grief a cake walk or a happy experience. There are particular elements that make grieving a suicide particularly difficult and painful.

Suicide has been a concrete part of my life since I was 16 years old. That year, one of my classmates committed suicide. He was part of my circle, my parish, but we were never really close. He wasn’t particularly popular either. Yet, hundreds of students came to the memorial service. People who sat next to him in class wondered if they had any responsibility for his death. It was crazy to observe, this massive ripple effect of one suicide.

Since that first experience, I have lost more friends to suicide. Closer friends. Intimate ones. I have yet to lose a client, and I know it will likely happen. I nearly always have at least one client that is suicidal at any given time in my professional life. I myself came extremely close to committing suicide several times my senior year in high school. Despair is a powerful emotion to try and escape.

The recent number of teenage suicides here in Indianapolis and this most recent death – all distant members of my social circle – make me once again aware of how much suicide deaths are hard to grieve. I think the hard part comes from the two questions those left behind always ask each other and themselves:

1. What would push someone to the point that they would take their own life?

2. Was there something I could have done or said that would have made the difference?

Those two questions will make you crazy if you let them. Believe me, I’ve done the hours of agony in the middle of the night, wondering how I failed someone I loved. Those of us who have come close to suicide ourselves can shed some light on the answers to these questions. So please permit me to speak from my own experience, the experience of dear friends, and the experience of many of my clients.

 

1. What would push someone to the point that they would take their own life?

If you’ve never seriously thought about killing yourself, then this question seems impossible to understand. How could anything get so bad that suicide looks like a good idea? Taking yourself out, on purpose, is an extreme action. It’s a final thing. How can death seem preferable to life?

This shift occurs when life itself is unbearable and there seems to be no end in sight. Depression takes over. Not just feeling down, discouraged or worn out. True depression tells you that you are alone in the world with your psychological pain. That trying to change anything in your life is pointless. Every mistake you’ve ever made looms large in your mind, convincing you that you are a total failure. Every time your actions or statements hurt someone you love (as we humans are prone to do) it becomes more evidence that the world is a better place without you. Hope dies. Something precious and valuable is missing or has been taken from you, AND you believe there is no way you will ever experience it or get it back.

It’s a dark and terrible place to be. If this experience continues for too long, or occurs too frequently, suicide looks really appealing.

 

2. Was there something that I could have done or said that would have made the difference?

No, not really. Maybe, but not really. Suicide is an intensely lonely action. When someone has reached a point that they are ready to end their life, they typically feel a sense of clarity and peace. Because the decision is so appealing at that point, they usually hide it from others and may even appear to be “doing better.”

Suicide calls us to feel compassion for the psychological pain of the person who did it and for those who survive them. It is not a time for judgment or recrimination. It is simply a tragedy. We feel powerless because the action of taking one’s life is such an extreme thing to do. In order to feel more in control of our lives, we will try to make ourselves responsible. By trying to blame ourselves for failing them in some way, we believe we will feel better. This perverse logic is false.

Opportunities for intervention may have existed before the decision was made and the action taken. These opportunities are easily missed unless the person is actively presenting them. What I mean is, there are a hundred possible reasons that a person who is thinking about suicide will never tell you, never show that they are depressed to an extent that would make you worry. Don’t beat yourself up for respecting their privacy. Be compassionate toward their memory and towards yourself.

 

Making a Difference

The best action you can take is using your remorse for good by improving things for those still living. Learn all you can about depression and suicide. Start to speak up about your own struggles with your friends and family. Realize that if someone says they are thinking about suicide they aren’t seeking attention. They are saying HEY! I am waking up everyday fighting to convince myself that there is more to life. Help me! So help them. Listen to them talk if they want or just keep them company if they don’t. Text them tomorrow and see how they are doing. Actively demonstrate to them that you are there, and you aren’t scared by what they are going through. Encourage them to seek professional help. Point out to them what is good and beautiful in the world. Try to relieve them of their shame about their struggle. Don’t assume you know what will fix it, be willing to follow their lead. Please add more ideas in the comments below!

On a larger level, we need to truly believe that depression is not a failure of moral fiber or personal character. Depression is a symptom of a brain problem, just like diabetes is symptom of a pancreas problem. Stop judging people for their struggles. Don’t say things like oh, she’s just bipolar. We need to learn how to be comfortable with all our emotions, not just the fun ones. We need more empathy and less judgment. Savor the human connection, in all it’s messy complexities.

22 Sep 2014

3 Happy Family Secrets for Your Family to Use

Does your family seem to be in constant stress and chaos?  Is there too much yelling, overreactions, and not enough communication?  Bruce Feiler may just have the solution.  In this TED talk, he explains his research of happy families and how they achieved it.  He is concise and clear and identifies three things families can do to improve their happiness.  While it is 17 minutes out of your day, it could just be 17 minutes that gives you a new perspective and solution on how to increase your family’s happiness and also help your kids be more independent.  Take a look…

Do you think this can work?  Add your thoughts in the our comments below!

10 Sep 2014

Fear Fuels OCD and 4 Ways You Can Defeat It

The fuel of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is fear. Fears that come in an endless array of shapes and sizes………

If I touch the door knob without washing my hands, I will contract a deadly illness……..worse yet, I may pass it to my children, and then they may die…

OR

If I don’t check to see if the gas stove is off, then my family and I will die from the fumes while we sleep…

Fear Fuels OCD

Fear Grows

 

We believe that the fears can be abated if we take some action (i.e. the compulsion). While many people wash their hands after touching a door or checking the stove once to be sure it is off, persons who suffer from OCD often do these tasks repeatedly. The problem is that the abatement doesn’t last before either that fear or a hundred others rear their ugly head. In exhaustion, we run through vicious cycles of obsessing over a myriad of fears and doing compulsive acts to try to stay the impending doom.

Notice, I say we. I was hit head on by OCD around the age of 13 and spiraled out of control until I finally got help when I was 18. I battled for several more years through counseling, medication, dietary changes, prayer, journaling, education, and exercise until finally I no longer qualified for the diagnosis.

But thinking in terms of fear and worst case scenarios is still my default mode. I have to battle to not let fear run my life. Here are some things I have learned about fear…………whether it be the fear that fuels OCD or a general feeling of anxiousness:

1. Unless someone has a gun to your head or you are in immediate physical danger, 9 times out of 10, fear is a liar.

2. If you give in to assuaging one fear by completing a compulsion, that same fear or 10 others will rapidly take its place.

3. Fear is a bad decision maker. Decisions based on fear usually don’t work out so well.

4. While we generally think courage is the opposite of fear, I find that love is the antidote to fear. Focusing on our love for and from others, for oneself, and God (if you so choose), helps make much wiser decisions.

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If you struggle with fear, try this journal exercise: Write down all the things (big and small) that you have been afraid of in the last week. Now ask yourself, how many of the fears came true?

27 Aug 2014