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Anxiety is a Powerful Word

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Anxiety is a Powerful WordWe all experience anxiety from time to time. Sometimes, it’s the simple feeling of trying to remember if you got all the items on the grocery list as you drive home from the store. Sometimes it’s the overwhelming sensation that you are not prepared for the final exam in the last class you need to graduate. It can even be the paralyzing wave of feeling that you will fail at everything and will indeed be a failure.

So, yes, anxiety can be a powerful word. However, it does not always have to be a controlling word. When we recognize that we are feeling anxiety, it is important to remember this is our body trying to prepare us for danger or make us aware of something we should be concerned about. We need to understand that we will survive and that we can get through whatever the situation is. I know it is hard. I deal with anxiety every day, and some days I deal with it better than other days. It is powerful, I just try to not let it be controlling.

If you find that anxiety can be controlling in your life, here is a great article with some tips to deal with anxiety. Let it be powerful, but let yourself retain the control.

Social Media Guide for Parents

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Pre Teen Girl Being Bullied By Text MessageIt can be difficult to keep up with the latest apps that kids are using. Just when you get the hang of how to talk to your kids about text messaging, they’ve moved on to Instagram or Snapchat. If you are prepared, able to have open communication with your child, and trained to know what to look for, you can help your kid avoid the harsh reality of social media such as cyberbullying, talking to unsafe people, and drama.

Does this mean your child should be banned from all these apps and/or their iPhone? Not at all, it just means we need to prepare and educate ourselves on different apps and their potential uses. Talking about using social media safely, responsibly, and respectfully is the best way to help your child identify and avoid red flags. Here are some common social media red flags, the apps they’re found in, and tips for dealing with them

Disclaimer: most apps, including just simple texting, can be used to send inappropriate content back and forth or be used to cyberbully. Also, a lot of apps have features that can be disabled or checked frequently by parents. If your child has a phone they are capable of either choosing to use it responsibly or irresponsibly. As parents, it is important to know what’s out there and have constant, on-going, conversations with your child on internet safety, self-respect, and the implications that sending something rude or inappropriate can have on their future.

Applications that can be downloaded to any iPhone, iPad, or android device:

Instagram

What to look for: Private messages and public settings 

Instagram has a feature commonly referred to as DMs which stands for direct messages – this is something you may not be able to see when checking your child’s Instagram. To find messages click on the inbox (paper plane looking) icon on the top right of the Instagram.

Instagram can be made public or private –  go to settings of this app to check the default – you can either choose to have this app public so that anyone can see your child’s profile and photo or private so your child can choose to accept only people they know to view their profile.

Privacy Hiding Apps

What to look for: Check all apps to see if this one is hiding 

There are numerous “vault” apps that can be downloaded to phones to hide photos or messages – the most popular is called “keep safe” and the icon looks just like a vault. Although, some of these apps are made to look like other things such as “my utilities” or flashlights.

Snapchat

What to look for: Location settings and anonymous message

Snapchat is a popular one amongst tweens and teens where you can send a picture and it disappears in 10 seconds or less – there is also a my story feature which allows the video or pictures to be displayed for 24 hours.

Click on the chat icon in the top left to view any chats occurring. Go to location settings on the phone AND on the app and make sure they are disabled, so tracking your child’s location through the app is not possible.

Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge

These are all dating apps that allow your child to sign up if they are 13 and have an active Facebook account. These apps allow viewing photos of others and engage in back and forth chats

Blue Whale Challenge

Please read the link to see what has be reported to cause the suicide of over 130 teens in the past 3 years:

http://metro.co.uk/2017/08/31/what-is-the-blue-whale-challenge-6893410/

6 Perks of Becoming Empty Nesters

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6 Perks of Becoming Empty NestersWith summer coming to an end, this can be an emotional time for parents of college bound children. Instead of worrying about what life will be like without children at home, I encourage couples to view this time to rekindle their marriage. Though it’s normal to feel bittersweet, here are some benefits of being an empty nester.

  1. Date Nights. No more kid-friendly environment needed. You and your spouse can go to any restaurant, venue, concert or event and not have to worry about whether it’s appropriate for the kids, will they like the food, or will they have fun. You and your spouse only need to worry about each other. Take the time to catch up with your spouse and hear about their day.
  2. Travel. You no longer have to plan your vacations around summer, spring break, and winter holidays. Now you and your spouse can take the vacation you have been waiting for without working around the kid’s school schedule. Travel abroad, go see an old friend. The possibilities are endless.
  3. Volunteer. No reason to not give back. “Now, what am I going to do with all my spare time?” Find an organization, community or corporation you’re passionate about and give back. Spend a day at church or at a homeless shelter. Help stock the local food pantry. Giving back is rewarding for both you, your spouse, and the community you are helping.
  4. Reconnect with Spouse. No more excuses. Take this time to focus on your spouse and rekindle your relationship. Start flirting again, making time for one another and planning things together. Go on a spontaneous walk through your neighborhood. Go out to dinner or see a movie. Relearn how to interact together.
    JMV Therapy, N.A., jakevoelker.com, N.A., http://www.jakevoelker.com/interesting-articles/
    JMV Therapy, N.A., jakevoelker.com, N.A., http://www.jakevoelker.com/interesting-articles/
  1. Establish New Hobbies. No more having to drive the kids around, attend sport events, and revolve your schedule around theirs. It is all about you and your spouse again. Take this time to focus on yourself and what you enjoy. Take a cooking class or a yoga class together. Establish what things you both like to do together and on your own.
    This Busy Life, Empty Nest: Recipes, thisbusylife.com, 20 Sept 2012. http://www.thisbusylife.com/2012/09/20/empty-nest-recipes/
    This Busy Life, Empty Nest: Recipes, thisbusylife.com, 20 Sept 2012. http://www.thisbusylife.com/2012/09/20/empty-nest-recipes/
  1. Regain Independence. No more excuses about not having time for yourself or your spouse.  Start taking care of yourself, doing things for yourself and focusing on what you want in life.  The workout class you stopped going to, start going again. The book you stopped reading last year, pick it back up again. There is no excuse to not do what you want to do.

If you and/or your spouse need someone to talk to during this transition, The Summit Counseling Center has couples’ therapists at both our Main and Satellite locations. To schedule an appointment or for more information call 678-893-5300 or visit us at www.summitcounseling.org.

Academic Accommodations and ADHD

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Academic Accommodations and ADHD by Rebecca L. Marshall, Ph.DIs your child eligible for academic accommodations?  Parents and students often wonder about qualifying for academic accommodations, including extra time on standardized testing, in the context of a diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Academic accommodations typically granted for students who struggle with clinically significant attention problems include the following:

  • Extended time on testing, including on standardized testing (50% extended time).
  • A distraction-reduced setting for taking tests to optimize focus and concentration.
  • Preferential seating in classrooms to improve focus during academic instruction.
  • Behavioral redirection if the student turns in incomplete assignments or is observed to be off-task. Immediate positive feedback should be provided for on-task behavior.
  • Structured breaks for longer assignments and projects so that the student does not become overwhelmed by the attentional demands required.

Psycho-educational or neuropsychological testing is typically required to receive academic accommodations.  The purpose of these accommodations is to help a student with ADHD demonstrate what he or she has learned, to the best of his or her ability.  Once recommended by a psychologist or a physician, the academic accommodations are provided through different mechanisms in public and private schools.  Public schools typically require a 504 Plan or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to be approved prior to a student becoming eligible for accommodations.  School counselors and administrators in private schools typically approve academic accommodations after reviewing the student’s psycho-educational or neuropsychological testing report.

What is a 504 Plan? 

A 504 plan is provided for students under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  It is part of the federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination against students with disabilities, including those with learning and attention issues who meet certain criteria.  504 plans are for K–12 public school students with disabilities.  The definition of a person with a disability is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (including paying attention for necessary lengths of time in school).  The student must have a record of the impairment, and the impairment must be regarded as a significant difficulty that is not temporary.  This definition covers a wide range of problems, including ADHD and learning disabilities.  A 504 plan can help students with learning and attention issues to learn and participate in a general education curriculum.  A 504 plan delineates how a student’s particular needs are met with accommodations and other services.   These measures, such as extended time for tests and a distraction-reduced setting or separate classroom for taking tests, remove potential barriers to learning.

What is an IEP?

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is different than a 504 plan in that it outlines special education and related services for a student, and it is based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  The child must have one of 13 specific disabilities listed in the IDEA to qualify for an IEP.  The disability must affect how the child learns in the context of a general education curriculum.  ADHD, intellectual impairment, and specific learning disorders are included as possible disabilities in the IDEA.  If a child has ADHD and is performing well in school, however, he or she may not be eligible for support under the IDEA.  He or she may still be eligible for support, such as extended time on tests, under a 504 plan.

Accommodations for College Admissions Testing

A petition for extended time and other special testing accommodations on standardized tests for college admissions (ACT and College Board tests) is typically completed with the help of a high school counselor.  Requests for extended time are usually submitted online and require: 1) documentation of the dates a student was tested for a given disability or diagnosis, 2) the date that the student was first diagnosed, 3) and an explanation of the reasons that extended time and/or other special testing conditions should be granted.  Test scores from psychological assessments are typically required.  The College Board and ACT usually do not grant such requests if the diagnosis at the time of the petition is less than 4 months old.  Testing typically must be completed within the last 3-4 years to qualify for extended time and other special services.

For more information about psycho-educational and neuropsychological testing for academic accommodations and ADHD, please contact Rebecca L. Marshall, Ph.D. at The Summit Counseling Center: 678-893-5300.

4 Tips for Parents of College-Bound Freshmen

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college boundGraduation has finally happened; celebrations have occurred, caps have flown in the air, and many speeches have been heard. All of the sudden, high school is over and college is on the horizon for many of our students.

College is an exciting and wonderful time but can also be a terrifying transition. College freshmen nervously wonder what will it be like and whether they can find a new home and friends. They will also have to adapt their study habits. College campuses offer a wide array of things to be involved in but students can slip through the cracks. They will have to figure out how to get involved and find their place in their new surroundings.

Parents, you can probably relate to their nerves. Many parents are so excited for their children but also scared that something might go wrong. If you and your child are in the midst of all of these feelings and questions, then I hope you know that you are not alone.

If you are worried about your child finding their way at college here are few tips:

  1. Communicate! Talk to your teen about how you can communicate during school and what ways they want your help with schoolwork. Since your teen is over 18 then the school will not release academic (or medical) information with you unless he or she gives them written permission. Talk to your teen about signing this form so you can communicate with the school if needed.
  2. Know the signs. The first year of college can be intimidating and overwhelming. Look out for signs like social isolation, lack of appetite, sleep issues, skipping class, and persistent hopelessness. If you notice these signs persisting then talk to your teen about possibly talking to a college counselor or other trusted resource.
  3. Be familiar with the school’s resources. Look into the school’s policies that would be applicable to your child. For instance, if your child has ADHD make sure you ask about accommodations. If your child has a history of struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness then make sure you connect with the college counseling office and set up a crisis plan.
  4. Clubs! Finding the right group is quintessential to having a good college experience. Encourage your teen to look into the different clubs and teams offered at his or her school before college begins. Having something to be visualizing can ease anxiety and build confidence.
  5. Be open. Share your feelings with your teen if you are concerned while he or she is away in loving, non-judgmental way. Provide a safe place to land that is consistent In the midst of change. Make sure you’re also taking care of yourself throughout the transition as well.

Parent Tips for Managing Effects of 13 Reasons Why

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Parent Tips for Managing Effects of 13 Reasons WhyWith Netflix being one of the most common avenues for entertainment, 13 Reasons Why is quickly becoming a popular show among preteens and teens right now. The series, 13 Reasons Why, is an adaptation of Jay Asher’s popular novel. It depicts a young girl who struggles with bullying and sexual assault and records a series of cassette tapes for the people “involved” to explain her struggle before dying by suicide at the end of the series. While the show aims to promote suicide awareness and prevention, it leaves a confusing mess for viewers. The series may confuse teens on how to best handle difficult emotions and situations such as sexual assault, bullying, and suicide. Research suggests that suicide awareness is best created through discussion of suicide followed by resources, ways to help someone, and ways to get help for yourself. 13 Reason’s Why is causing concern in the mental health field because instead of raising suicide awareness, it may be adding to the issue.

The series does bring up the topic of suicide and possible factors that can increase a person’s risk of suicide, such as bullying or sexual assault, but it fails to display proper prevention skills. Instead, the series is centered on tapes which are sent to all the people Hannah believed contributed to her choice for suicide. The tapes and the idea that others are responsible for someone else’s choice to kill themselves is false. Survivors of suicide (those left behind after a suicide) are never responsible for a person’s decision to kill themselves. The series also depicts each person reliving Hannah’s tragedy through the tapes she left behind which appears to be a form of revenge from Hannah. It is important to be clear that suicide is not a way to seek revenge, you cannot watch people suffer because of your death after you die. Suicide is very final and you will never know how someone reacts to your death– often children and teens do not realize this nor do they think about how final death really is.

In addition to displaying suicide as a form of revenge, the series also dangerously memorializes and glamorizes Hannah’s suicide in a way that many prevention programs suggest against. Rather than displaying ways to seek support, the series encourages the notion that the only way to really feel cared for by others, when you’re being bullied or dealing with difficult emotions, is to kill yourself. From multiple scenes of Hannah’s empty desk, her flower and note covered locker, to flashbacks of Hannah while each person listens to the tapes; the series shows a student who is missed and memorialized. It sends the message that people really do care, but only once she is dead. In addition, the series falsely portrays what happens in schools after a suicide. Schools are encouraged and taught through suicide prevention and postvention programs, such as Screening for Mental Health’s Signs of Suicide (SOS) program, to not leave empty desks, not allow decorated lockers, and not hold memorials at the school as to not memorialize or glamorize the student’s death in any way. The idea is to make it clear that suicide is not a solution to any problem.

The only scene that encourages the idea of seeking help for thoughts of suicide or reporting sexual assault is when Hannah meets with her school counselor. This is quickly followed by the portrayal of victim blaming and lack of empathy which sends the message that even counselors cannot and will not help; which is untrue. This message does not encourage teens to seek help, despite the fact that school counselors and mental health therapists are trained to respond to suicide, bullying, and sexual assault and that research suggests encouraging this type of relationship and communication can help save a life. School counselors and mental health therapists want to help support teens experiencing thoughts of suicide and other mental health issues.

Lastly, the series’ final episode graphically depicts Hannah’s suicide and method. Research through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention supports that graphic displays of suicide are dangerous, triggering, and increase the rates of suicide by that method. Rather than showing that help is possible and encouraging the idea that things can get better, the series sends the message that suicide is the only option.

If your teen has already watched 13 Reasons Why, it’s important to sit down and discuss some of the concepts and themes that take place in the show. Remember, talking about suicide in safe and effective ways does not cause or increase thoughts of suicide. In fact, effective discussion of suicide can increase awareness, reduce shame about thoughts of suicide, and make it more likely for your teen to seek support. In addition to the above information, here are some important talking tips and information to help:

  • Discuss Hannah’s life and the things she experienced such as bullying, sexual assault, and thoughts of suicide. Bullying and sexual assault are serious factors that can lead to depression, thoughts of suicide, or death by suicide. Open up a dialogue about these topics and what emotions they bring up for your teen.
  • Check in with your teen about whether they feel triggered by the series. Ask them what they’re feeling, how they’re managing it, and offer to be supportive for them. Talk with them about seeking additional support through a licensed therapist if they need or want someone to talk to.
  • Talk about the scene that depicts Hannah’s sexual assault and identify why consent is so important. Help your teen identify all the ways Hannah was NOT consenting to sex. It’s important to relay the message that sexual behavior is only okay when both parties are consenting.
  • The series shows a lot of risky behavior, including drugs and alcohol. Have a discussion with your teen about substance abuse and its effect on mental health. Substance abuse is a main contributor to depression and anxiety and is often used as coping skills. Talk to your teen about how to seek support for themselves or a friend; come up with a plan for how they can stay safe in situations when drugs and alcohol are present.
  • Openly talk about bullying and identify what constitutes as bullying. Discuss ways to help people who are being bullied such as going to a school counselor or administrator, talking to parents, and offering support to the bullied individual.
  • Talk about feelings that may occur as a result of bullying and ways to manage the feelings. Discuss seeking support from family and school officials, healthy coping skills, and other possible options the teen can come up with. Use this opportunity to ask your teen if he or she has ever been a bully or been bullied by anyone else.
  • Talk about suicide. Ask your teen about the message he or she got from the series about suicide based on Hannah’s behavior and decision. Listen to their perspective and then offer insight when necessary. Be clear that suicide is not the best option and that death is final.
  • Talk to your teen about his or her own experiences with suicide. Create an environment where your teen can openly talk about his or her own thoughts associated with suicide. If your teen reports thoughts of suicide, consider seeking treatment with a licensed therapist.
  • Discuss warning signs of suicide including but not limited to feelings of overwhelming sadness or anxiety, changes in behavior, withdrawal from any type of social group (friends, peers, and family), increased isolation, reduced interest in previously enjoyed activities, fatigue or difficulty sleeping, making arrangements for death, talking/writing about suicide, using statements such as I just can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to exist anymore, everyone would be better off without me, etc.
  • Openly discuss depression and help your teen identify the warning signs that Hannah displayed throughout the series.
  • Set up a plan with your teen on what to do if he/she or a friend experiences thoughts of suicide. Talk about Screening for Mental Health’s ACT model: Acknowledge, Care, and Tell for how to manage and prevent suicide
    • Acknowledge the situation – acknowledge that you are seeing warning signs of suicide and that it needs to be taken seriously.
    • Care for the person – Let the person know you care and want to support them.
    • Tell an adult – Tell a trusted adult that you or a friend are thinking of suicide. Some examples of trusted adults include but are not limited to: school counselors, teachers, school administrators, and parents. *let your child or teen know they can come to you with these feelings and thoughts if they are experiencing thoughts of suicide
  • Communicate all the ways your teen or others can an reach out for help:
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)
    • Text “START” to the Crisis Text Line (741741)
    • Talk to an adult (parent, teacher, school counselor, school administrator)
  • If you are concerned that your teen may be at risk, consider using the following link for a Brief Screen for Adolescent Depression: http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/SUMMIT
  • Discuss with your teen how to contact the Safe Schools Hotline (Anonymous/Confidential)
    • Report drugs, weapons, bullying, threats, or other safety issues.
    • Toll-Free 1-877-SAY-STOP 24 hours a day/7 days a week
    • Co-Sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Reports can also be made by email to safety@fultonschools.org
  • Fulton County Schools has an App where students can report anonymously if they are concerned about someone or themselves
    • Individuals can quickly and anonymously report situations and issues (pictures can be included) that may have occurred within schools using Quick Tip –a function available through the District’s Mobile App.
      • First, install the district’s app on your mobile device by visiting your app store and entering “Fulton County Schools” in the search window.
      • Select the “Quick Tip” icon on the app. You will see a form to choose your school and enter your message or “tip.” Click “submit.”
      • Safety and Security will receive the message immediately and begin working with schools and departments to verify and resolve reported issues.
      • Contact information is optional.
      • Reports can also be made by email to safety@fultonschools.org
    • Most importantly, use this as an opportunity to instill hope in your teen. Be sure to communicate that all emotions are fleeting and things can and will get better, even when it doesn’t seem possible. Remind them that emotions change but suicide is permanent.

If you are concerned about your student or believe your student needs immediate help, please reach out to 1-800-715-4225, Georgia Crisis & Access Line, and/or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number: 1-800-273-8255.

Additional Resources:

https://www.jedfoundation.org/mental-health-resource-center/

www.afsp.org

www.mentalhealthscreening.org

The Power of Therapy

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the power of therapyThere are a lot of reasons that people choose to seek counseling. The benefits of counseling can be unending, but sometimes making the first appointment can be hard. Maybe you’re thinking about whether it would be helpful, but are not sure if it’s for you. Let’s talk about some of the reasons counseling can help and why it can be for you.

  • Saying it Out Loud Helps

Saying a problem or concern out loud feels relieving. Having the opportunity to process through why something is troubling or hurtful can really take the pressure off yourself and prevent you from carrying the worries around with you. Talking out our thoughts and emotions helps us make sense of them and naturally reduces the amount of stress they cause.

  • No Judgment, Safe Zone

The therapy office is a judgment-free, safe zone. Rather than placing judgment on you, your therapist will be working to understand your experience and empathizing with you. Therapist understand that all people think and react differently to all kinds of situations in life; judgments are unhelpful because they stop the ability to fully understand.

  • Private and Confidential

Unless the therapist believes you are a danger to yourself or someone else, everything you say in the therapy office is confidential and private. Wait – the therapy office is judgment-free and confidential? Yep! That means you can talk openly and share feelings, thoughts, and experiences that you’ve felt shameful or scared to talk about in the past. You don’t have to worry about whether your secret will travel through the grape vine – it will not. What you say in there, stays in there.

  • Acceptance and Validation

Feeling accepted and understood is crucial to well-being. We all seek genuine acceptance and acknowledgment of our emotions. In therapy, your therapist will want to help you feel accepted and understood in the counseling office and in your life. We don’t have control of other people and their behaviors, but the therapist can help you accept yourself and build self-confidence. Your therapist will want to help empower you to advocate for yourself, love yourself, and learn how to trust your emotions.

  • Importance of the Therapy Relationship

It’s important to pick a therapist who you can align with best. Often you can choose gender, age range, and specialty focus. Once you start therapy, you will begin to build a relationship with your therapist. Over time you will see that your therapist is a human, just like you. Your therapist is not your friend, but they do serve an important role in your life to help you uncover and change unhelpful patterns you may experience. Your therapist may play a part in helping you be more direct and advocate for yourself, or the relationship can sometimes be helpful in changing the way you view other relationships. For example, you may realize that not every person will judge you or invalidate your emotions. Overall, therapy can help you realize there is someone out there who understands you. Maybe you’ve tried therapy and didn’t like your therapist; that does happen. Try again! There is a therapist out there for everyone.

At the end of the day, the choice to seek counseling is your own. Rather than feeling like you “should” seek counseling, tell yourself you CAN seek counseling. Empower yourself that the road to feeling better is in your hands. Counseling is not a “one size fits all.” Instead, it is an experience that is tailored to suit you and your needs. Making the first appointment can be challenging, but once you show up, your therapist will do his or her best to understand and help.

4 Ways to Weather the Waves of Transition/ Loss

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Man comforting his sad mourning friendEven for those of us who crave adventure, change can be terrifying. Whether it is expected change, like our students who are going from one school to the next, or unexpected change, like a lost job or loved one, all change is difficult and comes with a wide mix of emotions. If you are finding yourself in the midst of one of these storms, here are a few ways to weather through it:

  1. Acknowledge that it is difficult (and that is ok!). In our culture we often pride ourselves on being independent and strong. When change occurs we often say “I’m fine” to others and tell ourselves “I shouldn’t be upset about this”. Transitions whether good or bad come with a loss attached. Losing parts of our lives is painful regardless of the situation and has grief attached.
  2. Share your story. As humans we need to connect with others. We need to be seen and heard. After a loss you need to tell others your story. Tell someone you trust about the changes you are going through. Tell them a story about your lost loved one. Share what you miss or are anticipating missing. You might realize that you aren’t alone in your struggle.
  3. Find a solid ground. In the midst of change it can feel like you are trying to stand on top of a trampoline. The ground is shaky and you forget what can hold you up. Take time to find places that are solid in your life. Acknowledge the things that have not and will not change in your world and celebrate the good in those people/ things.
  4. Take gentle, prepared steps. Once you’ve found some places that are solid, prepare yourself for the road ahead. Push back the part of you that wants to run ahead and give yourself time to think about where you want to step next. It will take time to shift gears slowly but taking that time is vital to accepting the changes in your life so that you can go forward without regrets.

Coping with the Big Bad Wolf: Test Anxiety

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Test AnxietySpring break is quickly approaching. While that brings shouts of joy for most children, it is also a reminder that the Georgia Milestone is right around the corner. Since the beginning of March, I have been bombarded with more and more children sharing their fears about the test that is coming up. They are worrying about how hard it will be, whether they will do a good job or not, and some are scared that they won’t pass. Reassurance from parents and teachers can go a very long way but there are some additional steps that parents can take at home to instill confidence and peace of mind.

  • Encourage their efforts. Rather than just saying “good job” or “well done” when your child comes home with a good grade, focus on the process instead. Notice the effort they make when doing their homework or studying for a test. Try saying “You’re working really hard right now” when they are doing their homework or “you know a lot about this topic” when you are helping them study. Focusing on the process and the details of the work they are doing will really boost their confidence.
  • Make time for play breaks. Play is such a natural state for kids to be in. It’s engaging, rejuvenating, and comforting for them. Children need this time worked into their day so that they have the energy and fortitude to handle the stress that inevitably comes from school (especially around times of testing). We need to nurture this play time as well as intelligence. Play gives children the chance to practice what they are learning.
  • Rest and a good diet are paramount for a child’s success. In the weeks leading up to the Georgia Milestone tests, make sure your children are routinely getting a good night’s sleep and eating healthy. Make it a habit now so that it’s effective later.
  • Be patient and mindful of what stress looks like in children. Increased moodiness, defiance, and difficulty sleeping can all be signs of heightened stress in children. Children are often unable to tell us what’s bothering them but they can always show us. Behaviors are the symptom not the problem. Therefore, when your child is acting up more than usual, ask yourself “what is my child trying to tell me?” before jumping to discipline.
  • Remind your child that a little anxiety is normal. Everybody worries sometimes. Worry can even be beneficial in the right amounts. A healthy amount of worry motivates us to prepare, helps us focus on doing our best, and even makes us more alert during stressful situations.

In the end, all kids survive the testing process. However, while we as adults know this, a child often sees testing as a big bad wolf out to get them. Validate their fears and encourage the efforts they’ve been making all year long. Hear them, validate them, love them, and just be there for them. Each time your child conquers the stress they are under, they set themselves up to conquer the next one. Good luck to all!!! Below are a few more resources to help you and your child conquer the big bad wolf.

Resources:
“Sitting Still Like a Frog” by Eline Snel
“What to do when you Worry too much” by Dawn Huebner
“Freeing your child from Anxiety” by Tamar Chansky

6 Ways to Increase Confidence in Adolescents

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6 Ways to Increase Confidence in AdolescentsHaving confidence is a key factor in success. Confidence determines how a teen feels about themselves and how they interact with other people. Confidence “sets the stage” for how a teen will view the world and experience life.  Parenting can be stressful and nobody is perfect. If you want to encourage healthy confidence in your teen, read and follow these 6 helpful tips:

1. Create rules, but don’t be a dictator

It’s important that teens have structure in their life. This encourages them to keep schedules and learn boundaries. But – don’t dictate their every move. Teens need to learn to make their own decisions and set their own boundaries as well. Being overly authoritative shuts down independence and confidence!

2. Celebrate them when they try something new

Rewarding your teen with praise for trying something new is the best way to encourage the behavior in the future.  He or she will feel acknowledged and proud for stepping outside of their comfort zone – this is where success happens!

3. Express confidence instead of worry

Telling your teen that you’re worried about them gives him or her more reason to doubt them self. Express confidence and use encouragement instead.

4. Turn mistakes into “teaching” moments

Rather than criticizing or scolding your teen for a mistake, sit down with him or her and discuss what happened. Help them talk through the mistakes and problem-solve for the future.

5. Encourage effort, do not criticize attempts

If your teen is trying a new task or practicing skills, it is more helpful to encourage him or her and point out the good in what they are doing rather than pointing out mistakes. This teaches him or her to focus on positive things or negative things and increases confidence.

6. Do not create exceptions for your child

Create rules, boundaries, and guidelines for your teen. Then, enforce consequences when rules are broken and only reward behavior when necessary. Consequences teach your teen that they are not above established rules and boundaries. Making exceptions for him or her teaches feelings of entitlement and encourages the idea that they don’t have to work hard for what they want and/or that rules don’t apply to them.

onsite_school_based_counselingIf your teenager needs someone to talk to please call the Summit Counseling Center to make an appointment with one of the licensed School-based Therapists located in Alpharetta, Centennial, Chattahoochee, Johns Creek, Milton, and Northview high school at 678-893-5300!

The Summit Counseling Center
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