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School Jitters

First Day Jitters
How to help your kids face down anxiety.
By Charity Hagains MA LPC-S
While many kids run towards their new classrooms full of excited anticipation, there are equally as many children who feel anything from nervous to paralyzing fear at the notion of new friends and a new teacher. While it’s a normal part of the shared human experience to feel nervous at the idea of change, it doesn’t have to be traumatizing. Here are a few tips for preparing your more skittish kiddos for the first day of school.
  • Be Honest
    • Change is scary. While many parents want so badly for their child to be one of the excited care-free kiddos, most likely they aren’t. I hear parents telling their children, “there’s nothing to be afraid of,” but that is simply not true. If your child is afraid, telling them not to be makes them feel even worse. Plus, you are running the risk that they will begin to act unafraid yet still feel terrified. Help them by being honest with them.
  • Acknowledge what they feel. “You look a little scared,” goes a lot further than denying that they are scared. “A new teacher can be scary. I get nervous when I start a new job or get a new boss. I don’t always know what to expect.” Validate that being scared is a normal part of being a person, and that you have felt that way yourself, yet you didn’t let it hold you back. “I was scared on my first day of school too. I took a deep breath and tried to remember that everyone else was scared too, and it wasn’t just me. It made it easier to talk to people that way.”
  • Share Your Coping Skills
    • We all have times when we are nervous about a situation and yet we all manage to make it through those emotions and keep living our lives. Think about how you do that. How do you make it through? Share that with your kiddo. While I have written extensively about developing healthy coping skills and could list out what those are, it is better for you to determine what skills you put into practice. You are their teacher for this lesson. If you have a skill that really helps you in a difficult moment, teach that to your child. Share with them how it helps. Do this often. Anytime you are struggling with a situation, let your child see how you deal with it successfully. Children need to learn that we all feel uncomfortable at times, and that is okay because we have ways to manage that. This will help them them learn not to run from problems, but to face them and grow stronger.
  • Get Prepared
    • One great way to help ease the anxious mind is to feel prepared for a situation. This can include, taking a tour of a new school or classroom before all the other children arrive, meeting the teacher before open house night, looking at photos from last year (teachers always have photos of their classes fun activities laying around. Just ask if you and your child can see them). You can even ask the teacher to walk you through a normal classroom day (we come in, you sit here, we have calendar time then math etc…).
  • Start Early
    • This goes along with being prepared. Develop your school routine early (say a week or two before school starts). Wake up as if your child is going to school that day, make breakfast, get lunch ready, take a shower and dress…all in time to get to school. Likewise, bedtime becomes important again during these weeks. While summer is often a time to let the rules bend a little and kiddos may have been staying up later, now is the time to refocus and get back to life as usual.
    • This helps children be able to fully adjust to the new schedule weeks before they are expected to adjust to a new classroom.
Having a nervous kiddo is difficult as a parent. We want so badly for our children not to experience anything uncomfortable, and it hurts us when they do. Try to remember they aren’t just your children, but a person as well. People are supposed to struggle in order to grow, and learning how to do that now will help them throughout their entire lives. Don’t read too much into an anxious kiddo. I know we are tempted to predict the future for our children, but doing so can cause us more pain than necessary. If your child is socially anxious about his new 1st grade classroom, it does not (I repeat it does not) mean that he will grow into a timid and scared adult. Don’t let yourself give more meaning to these situations than they deserve. In the end, doing so will only lead to a feeling of desperation and fear, thereby causing your child to believe that their is reason to panic. The calmer you are about your child being anxious, the more helpful you can be for him or her. In the end, that’s what we all want as parents, to be the solid helpful guide for our children throughout their lives.

Summer Sanity Savers

summer-time-

Summer Sanity

By Charity Hagains MA LPCS

 

 

 

The last day of school brings a thrilling anticipation for lazy mornings, long lasting days, and a break from the norm. That excitement quickly fades when we realize that the routine we had all been trying to break free of is what has kept the ship afloat. Although summer is a much needed change from the status quo, it can be difficult to manage a household of children without those normal operating procedures. Here are a few tips to keep your sanity during these dog days of summer.

 

  • Don’t toss the whole schedule

 

Retaining some of your normal day is essential for keeping your sanity. Perhaps the time of day changes, but the order of the day can still remain intact. Keeping the morning and evening routines the same will take some of the pressure off mid day activities.

 

  • Make a plan, then throw it out!

 

It’s nice to have a plan for what your day is going to be, but lets get real. With kids involved, nothing goes according to plan. The disappointment of an unmet expectation can be the most difficult part of a fun summer plan. While you may have a vision of what you would like for your family this summer, remember that it won’t be perfectly accomplished, but it will be perfect for your specific family…no matter how different it turns out.

 

  • Take a time-out

 

With kiddos being out of school, it means a lot more juggling for the parents. It’s important to take some time away for yourselves each week. If that’s putting the kids to bed early or sending them to “camp grandma” for a night, you need to let yourselves take some time for yourselves.

 

  • Practice forgiveness

 

The compassion of forgiveness is difficult but necessary. With so much more interaction time between family members, there are much more opportunities to argue, snap at, or outright attack one another. During those difficult moments, try to cultivate forgiveness and compassion for those around you (including yourself). When you snap at the kids because the noise level has reached atomic levels or late bed times have gotten the better of your otherwise pleasant mood, remember you are human too and forgive yourself. Likewise, practice understanding and forgiveness with others. The kids are also out of sorts during the summer, and we have to remember and adjust our perceptions for that.

 

  • Play

 

Yep, the best part of summer is giving yourself the excuse to play! There are tons of chores to be done with everyone being home more during the day, but don’t let the to-do list overtake your inner fun seeker. Let the dishes sit after dinner, and play a game instead. Let the laundry pile up for a day, and enjoy floating in the pool. Dance in the kitchen, and order take out instead of slaving over a hot stove. These are important moments for your family and for yourself. Let yourself enjoy them, and worry about the to-do list in the fall.

Agreeing to Disagree

agree to disagree

Agreeing to Disagree

By Charity Hagains MA LPC-S

A difference of opinion can be devastating to a relationship, or perhaps, it can be a strengthening cement that bonds us together. As social media has exploded with differing viewpoints these last few weeks, you may have been an eye witness to some of the more damaging and hurtful ways in which people disagree. Not only is this an online struggle but also a face-to-face dilemma. Perhaps your own personal life is a minefield of arguments – mother and daughter, husband and wife, siblings or neighbors, etc. In an age where we are encouraged not only to have our own beliefs, but also to express those beliefs, we can find ourselves amidst raging emotions as we strive to “communicate.”

Thankfully however, war doesn’t have to ensue with every disagreement. There are many ways in which we can argue or disagree effectively and respectfully. Through this healthy communication style, our relationships can grow stronger and more valuable than they ever were before. Here are some tips for how you can argue and “agree to disagree” in a beneficial way.

Recognize Your Goal

When we argue we often let our emotions get the better of us. Perhaps we begin to feel attacked or rejected when someone does not agree with our point of view. Maybe we feel disrespected in the way we are being spoken to or that the other person does not value our opinion. In any case, you must first think about what your goal is for this conversation. Is it to express your opinion? Is it to get the other person to agree with you? Is it to feel that the other person respects you? What are you seeking and why? When you have the answer to this, you can begin to choose topics in the conversation that are more focused on that underlying goal, which are not always even related to the topic at hand.

Speak with Self-Respect

If we expect someone to treat us with respect in a conversation, we must first treat ourselves with respect. What does this mean? Well, no name calling for one thing. This is not a respectful way to speak to another person. On that we can all agree, but it is also a way of disrespecting yourself. Stooping to a level beneath you to make your point heard will only decrease the respect you have in yourself once the argument is over. Even when others are not maintaining that level of respect, you can.

Validation is NOT Agreement

People often mistake validating a point with agreement of that point. Likely all points are valid. If another person is seeing, feeling or expressing something; for them the point is valid. Validating that for them is not a weakness, but a strength in your own confidence. Most of the time, we simply want to be heard in an argument. We want to know that the other person is listening to us and understanding what we are saying, even if they don’t agree with it. Offering this to another person shows compassion for them as a human being, something we are all craving. It doesn’t mean that you are in agreement with their views or beliefs on a subject, but that you value them as a person and hear what they are saying.

Let go of Needing

The emotional trigger that drives us from a lively debate towards a raging fight is the feeling that we need agreement. We get a deep seated urge for someone to tell us we are “right” and they are “wrong.” Understandably, we all enjoy the satisfaction of winning or of hearing confirmation that we are indeed correct. What often gets us into painful situations is our desire for someone else to do that for us, rather than looking inward and providing the confirmation for ourselves. Confidence in our beliefs or ideas first comes from within. While it is nice to hear, “That’s absolutely correct,” from another person their is still satisfaction in building your confidence inwardly. Doing so takes some of the need out of an argument and lets emotions remain manageable throughout the discussion.

When disagreements happen, take a moment to calm down and focus on yourself rather than the other person. Keep calm, and know that you are in control of yourself and your beliefs. You are the only one who can change your opinion, and no argument changes that fact. Don’t let a difference of opinion damage a valuable relationship out of need for agreement. Disagreements can strengthen relationships if you understand your goal, speak with self-respect, offer the compassion of validation, and remain confident in your beliefs without needing agreement.

If your relationship has been damaged by repeated arguments and repairing it has become unmanageable, the professionals at Noyau are here to help. Our experts can help you regain the caring and meaningful relationship that you crave and deserve.

 

Meet Carly!

Meet our newest addition to Noyau Wellness Center, Carly Burek – Senior Dietitian. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who has a passion for empowering her clients to achieve and maintain healthy lifestyles through balanced nutrition and exercise. She began her professional career working as personal trainer and group exercise instructor before deciding to pursue her Masters in Nutrition. Since then, she has worked with athletes looking for a competitive edge through their diets, clients who suffer from food allergies and GI issues, and those who are just trying to understand how to reach their health goals. From weight loss, to meal planning, to disease management, Carly excels in working with clients to create a nutrition plan specific to each individual’s needs.

Let’s meet Carly!

Meet Carly

|What made you want to pursue a career in nutrition?|
I’ve always loved health and fitness, but early in my career it became evident that you can’t be healthy with exercise alone. Nutrition is a huge part of healthy living and I’m a strong believer that everyone has the power to achieve an overall healthy lifestyle, they just need the knowledge and sometimes a little extra encouragement.

|Why do you think that so many people struggle with their nutrition?|
Eating is a very emotional process for many people. Some people tend to overeat when they’re stressed, others may struggle with food in social situations. We live in a society where any type of food is readily available at any time, so it’s not hard to end up getting caught up in an unhealthy eating pattern. While I can provide the information and motivation needed to improve nutrition, some people may need to delve deeper into emotional issues with counselors to determine the underlying emotional relationship with food and/or their bodies. This is why the holistic approach at Noyau is so helpful.

|What are your go-to healthy snacks?|
While everyone has different food preferences, some of my favorite picks are: plain Greek yogurt + fresh berries, green smoothies, an apple + peanut butter, and edamame. I always stick with a protein + a fruit and/or vegetable.

|What’s the biggest misconception you’ve found when it comes to dieting?|
People often believe that there are “good foods” and “bad foods.” While it’s true that some foods provide higher nutritional value than others, all foods fuel your body in some sort of way. Your body doesn’t recognize foods as good or bad fuel, it just breaks everything down to the same things – the most basic forms of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Many diets these days have led our society to feel guilty about eating certain foods. I like to remind my clients that food should NEVER coincide with feelings of guilt. We have taste buds for a reason, and it’s important to remember that food is as much about enjoyment as it is about nutrition.

|What do you love most about being a dietitian?|
My goal as a dietitian is to empower my clients to improve their health, bodies, and lives. There’s no better feeling than helping people reach their goals, especially when that leads to more confidence, energy, and strength.

 

 

Summer Reading List

Summer Reading

Summer Reading List

By Charity Hagains MA LPC-S

Summer is here! If you have been counting the months until those longer days arrive, wait no more! School is out, vacations are booked and the usual status quo has shifted. For my literary buffs I have two precious words: Summer… Reading. Words that strike fear into the hearts of high school students everywhere have a very different meaning for us adults.

A vision of beach reading promptly comes to mind (insert ocean waves and salty air). New romance novels, Sic-Fi thrillers and Historical fiction decorate the shelves of every Barnes & Nobel across the country, just waiting for those who see summer as the holy grail of relaxing beachside with a book.

I am the first to grab for a paranormal romance novel or sci-fi thriller trading my real-world to-do list for this fanciful portrayal, but we can’t live on fiction alone. It is for this reason that I offer my readers a deeper and more meaningful path to literary satisfaction.

Balance is important in our lives, as well as our reading. Fictional worlds are fun without doubt, but don’t discount the more meaningful and inspirational works that depict a real life joy. One of the reasons I love my fiction is there is always a great story that has difficult conflicts and mysteries, but the best part is always in the end. When you have spent 10 hours reading a book, investing in the lives of the characters and riding their emotional roller coaster, there is nothing better than a nice neat “They lived happily ever after” ending. And then it’s real life again…

In an effort to balance out the real-life issues we all face and the fantasy we all enjoy reading about, I offer…more books. I know, I’m a literary junkie…but what’s a therapist to do? Here are some of my favorite books for inspiration and information that help to balance the fantasy fun. They aren’t boring homework that keep the teacher from having to spoon feed information to their students. No, these are books to help those of us who seek growth stay inspired.

One hour of therapy a week is never enough to keep you jazzed up about becoming all that you desire to be. Even assignments given by therapists aren’t enough. I believe that, if you want change, it is a daily continuous process that requires the ideas of many rather than your own singular thought process. To that effect, this list covers many topics in which my clients frequently seek growth. So I challenge my readers to grow this summer! Grow in yourself, your relationships, your career and your family! I hope this is a helpful list to motivate you on your path.

“Gifts of Imperfection” Dr. Brene Brown.

This book focuses on building a positive self worth through living a whole-hearted authentic life. If you are someone who seeks the feeling of acceptance, from others as well as yourself, this book is for you. Delving into her research on shame and vulnerability, Brown embraces our need for connection and self acceptance.

“Self-Compassion” Dr. Kristen Neff

In a culture that is so familiar with being our own worst enemy, Neff teaches her readers how to become their own best friend. Acceptance through self-compassion instead of motivation through self-recrimination drives us to achieve our goals, yet still feel positive about who we are. If you are someone who beats yourself up on a regular basis, this book is a must read!

“Scream Free Parenting” Hal Edward Runkel LMFT

If you are reading this and feel like your children drive you crazy, if you are searching for ways to feel more secure in your parenting, this book is for you. Parenting in our current day and age is so indescribably difficult that even the most poetic authors struggle to describe the depths of this endeavor. It’s okay, we all feel that way. We search for ways to prepare our children for every possible scenario and usually become overwhelmed at the idea. Our emotions over take us and the fear that they might face failure, pain or rejection becomes so magnified we feel helpless. If that sounds like you, this is your book.

“How To Listen So Kids Will Talk and How To Talk So Kids Will Listen” Adel Faber and Elaine Mazlish

A renowned favorite of parents and therapist alike, this book helps parents who crave a way to communicate with their kids. Be them toddler or teenage, this book will aid you in creating a way for you and your child to understand one another and feel heard. There is no more frustrating situation than wanted to communicate with someone and yet not being able to effectively do so. I can’t sing this books praises enough!

“The Happiness Advantage” Sean Achor

I found out about this book via Ted Talks (another addiction of mine), and finally I felt like someone combined scientific data with entertaining and meaningful insight. If you are someone who says “I will be happy when…” this book is for you. “I’ll be happy when my children are old enough to take to fun events.” “I’ll be happy when I get that promotion.” “I’ll be happy when I make a million dollars.” “I’ll be happy when I loose 20lbs.” These statements are contrary to achieving any of these goals; and while I frequently try to explain this to my clients, it is difficult to conceptualize. “The Happiness Advantage” gives you scientific data to understand this claim and practical application for how making yourself happy leads to goal achievement.

I hope your summer is filled with inspiration and enjoyment. I know that after this year we all need a bit of sunshine. This summer I wish for you to purposely fill your heads and hearts with words that uplift and invigorate your spirits so that you all may achieve all that you are capable of!

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