Author: daynasykeslpc

Dayna Sykes is a Licensed Professional Counselor/Mental Health Service Provider who specializes in mental health issues to treat youth ages 3-18. Dayna also provides services for young adults transitioning into adulthood/parenthood/etc. Dayna is accruing credentialing in Play Therapy in order to provide more specialized services for youth. I am excited to be available to provide services in my home community and to serve those areas around Smith County. I have been working with youth in the mental health profession since 2003 and have experience in counseling, supervision, and consulting. It is my belief that the family is our most important system and we should nourish those relationships in order to build a stronger system in the home. I provide support for parents who bring their child in for counseling.

Help Me Help Your Teen

Does your teen struggle with anxiety and constant worry over tests?

Grades?

Friendships?

Feeling they never are good enough?

Future Goals?

College?

Pleasing everyone?

Take this quiz to help me create resources that will help your teen.

Help Me Help Your Teen! 

Take The Survey Below!!!

Teens Struggling with Anxiety

New Resource Added for Teen Moodiness

Do you sometimes feel like your teen’s mood is unbearable?  You’ve probably heard them say “I can’t help it”…or maybe you’ve thought “she is out of control!”

Did you know that we have the ability to control our thoughts?  Our feelings?  And how we react?  Therefore controlling our Moodiness!

Below is a NEW RESOURCE for you to use with your teen to help GAIN CONTROL of your teen’s moodiness!!

Our brain is a very complex organ in our body that controls everything we do.

We can remap how we approach things by making changes to how we think.

In this worksheet, I provide you with instructions on how to walk through your thoughts, feelings, and actions/reactions so your teen can GAIN CONTROL of their mood.  I also provide an example for you!

This tool is developed for teens but can be used by anyone struggling with moodiness.

Download it now  or find it anytime on my Self Help page.

If you need help with your teen, call me at 615-683-1111 for a free 15 minute phone consultation.

 

 

My Top 5 Tips for Battling Anxiety

Here is a round-up of my top 5 tips most helpful for you and your battle against Anxiety! 

1. Deep Breathing:  I teach deep breathing, AKA belly breathing A LOT in my practice because it is so effective and easy to do.  Click here to see how I teach this technique to children.

2. Mindfulness: This is a post I wrote a while back on my 3-2-1 approach to fighting off anxiety.

3. Change Your Thoughts: I teach teens and children this technique.  Our thoughts are what drive our feelings.  Our feelings drive our behavior/reaction, and the circle continues. Instead of thinking “this is going to be a horrible day”, change your thought to a positive one!   You could change it to “OK-this is a new day, and I’m going to make it a good one.”—“That was a bad dream, but it wasn’t real.”—“1 bad thing is not going to ruin my whole day!”  See how I did that?  More on this later…

2. Apps!    Click here to find apps that you can use as tools while you are working through your anxiety and depression. (Note: These are not to replace therapy, if needed, but to aide you in your ability to overcome your struggles.)

5. Talk it out.  This may be with a friend or a therapist.  Having meaningful connections can ease so many issues we struggle with.  You need someone in your life who gets you and who accepts you.  If you have no support, let me help you find it.

Don’t fight this alone!  I am here to help.

Call 615-683-1111 to set up a free 30 minute phone consultation.

Nurturing Self-Esteem in Children

Last post I asked you to write down as many positive things about yourself you can think of in 1 minute.  I bet some of you struggled with this…if not great!  You might not need to read about self-esteem.  However, the flip side is I bet you can come up with double or more negative thoughts about yourself in less than a minute.  Right?  And the sad part is that we tell ourselves these negative things all day every day.  We “bully” ourselves!

Kids do the same thing!  “I’m so ugly…I’m fat…I’m stupid…No one likes me at this school…I can’t do anything right…I never do the right thing…I’m going to fail this test/class/grade…no one is going to pick me to be on their team…my parents hate me…I have no friends…” The list goes on.  Now add to those negative thoughts negative perceptions.   (more…)

Do You Struggle with Self-Esteem?

This week we’re going to be talking about our children’s self esteem.  That can be a heavy subject!

chains-1379468_640

I would like to know where you struggles with your own self esteem and when you think it began for you.  Our ability to see the good in ourselves begins in childhood and either grows or is stunted as we mature.  Our parents have a huge influence on what we think of ourselves and how much confidence we have in our ability to Be or Do great things.

When you think about self-esteem, you often get an image of someone in your mind that you know…  Who are you picturing right now?  Maybe they have a negative view of their body, they have zero confidence and are really shy, or maybe they never socialize for fear of embarrassment. And on the other side of that, you know people who seem to have a very strong confidence in themselves that seems arrogant and cocky.  I bet you’re picturing someone else you know!

Where is the healthy middle?

Stop and Think—

Set your timer for 1 minute and write down as many positive things about yourself that you believe are good qualities.

Now…how many did you come up with?  If you struggled with this, why did you struggle?

We will talk more throughout the week about how to combat this thing called self esteem and how to set our children up for success in this area.

Please share your experience in the comments and tell me where you struggle with your own self esteem.  Do you know when this struggle began?

 

 

Deep Breathing for Children

As promised, here is a post on helping your child learn deep breathing techniques or belly breathing.  Deep breathing is a quick trick to help alleviate anxiety and calm worries.

When teaching a child this technique, there are 2 different ways I approach it, depending on the child’s age, developmental level, and comfort.  Most children are open about practicing techniques in front of others, but older children may feel a little weirded out when you start asking them to perform belly breathing in front of you, especially if they already have anxiety.

Trick #1-Teaching deep breathing using Bubbles. soap-bubbles-870342_640

I have a pack of bubbles in my office like this one that I can hand out to children in sessions.  I have the child blow bubbles and discuss how hard/soft to blow to get lots of bubbles or big bubbles.

I then suggest this as a trick to help them fight off their worries or (fill in the blank)-tummy ache, jitters, etc.-most of the time children cannot label anxiety/nervousness/worries.  But they can tell you what somatic complaints they have easily, which is a sign of anxiety depending when and how often it’s occurring.   (Please be advised that tummy aches do not mean your child has anxiety.  If you are concerned your child may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety, schedule an appointment for further assessment with a Pediatrician or Mental Health Professional.) 

 

Trick #2- Teaching Deep Breathing using a stuffed animalbear-678607_640

Have your child lay down on his/her back comfortably and place a small stuffed animal on their belly.

While directing them to slowly breathe in through their nose and out their mouth, guide them to watch the stuffed animal move up and down on their belly.

This will teach them belly breathing, and they can visibly see if they are breathing correctly.  Most times, this is modeled for the child by first doing the technique and then asking them to teach it back to me.  Children love to be the teacher!  I always end a session reminding them to teach their parent what they learned.  This keeps parents involved in progress and helps them hold the child accountable to practice daily.

Alright, that’s it-2 simple ways to help your child practice deep breathing!

Belly Breathing

One of the most common tools I teach teens and adult clients is belly breathing.  It is one of the most successful tools when treating anxiety and fear.  This trick can calm you down quickly and can be used ANYWHERE, which is what I love about it.

Belly breathing is also known as deep breathing.

Before you practice this technique, I want you to imagine your belly is a balloon….

image1

OK—Got it?

When air is blown into a balloon, it inflates.  So as you breathe air in, your belly will inflate like a balloon.

When you release your breath, your belly should deflate as a balloon would when slowly losing air.

image0

 

 

 

 

Step 1: Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.

Step 2: Clear your thoughts

Step 3: Take a slow deep breath in through your nose, slowly counting to 7, while focusing on your belly rising.

Step 4: Hold that breath for 2-3 seconds.

Step 5: Slowly release your breath, counting to 7, while your belly releases air.

Step 6: Repeat for 1 minute.

The trick to this technique is that you are breathing through your belly—Not— your chest.

Practice this Belly Breathing daily to build your stamina and increase the number of seconds you are inhaling and exhaling.  Work your way up to increments of 5, 10, 15 minutes of deep breathing.

A relaxed body cannot be an anxious body…

More on how to teach deep breathing to your child in the next post…

 

Are We Overdiagnosing???

One of the biggest challenges I find in my career is the pressure to diagnose children.  With the added pressure of billing to insurance companies and customers wanting an answer to “Why does my child act like this?”, professionals are often pushed into slapping a label on you.  Is it ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Oppositional Defiance……..?  The list can go on.

This has always been a struggle for me.  Not that I’m not prepared to handle diagnosing or know symptoms to treat.  It’s that label.  It sticks around.  It’s often used to excuse behavior rather than change it.  It can leave an impression on a child that “something is wrong with me”.  And the biggest issue I have, a lot of times nothing is wrong with your child.  They are developmentally where they should be.  Yes, I said it.  They are normal.  They are reacting to the stressful events that are occurring all around them.

Let’s look at society today just to make an example here.  Have you ever noticed how high anxiety and depression rates are in adults?  How many people are on antidepressants to treat both issues?  Do you feel life is stressful and over-scheduled?  Feel like there is constantly something pulling you in a different direction, running from place to place, never ahead of schedule?  Our children are right along with us.  And not only can they feel the same way we are feeling, they can’t think through it the way we do.  They can’t tell themselves, “this is only a season”, “things will be better after this week is over”, “vacation is just a week away”, or “I will just take a whole week off next month and reboot”.  Nope.  They are expected to be miniature adults who go with the flow!

When I was growing up, I remember being home most of the time.  I played outside every day.  I had a very active imagination.  It was safe enough for me to roam around our neighborhood unsupervised, ride my bike all around the circle or the subdivision we lived in.  Everyone knew who I was and we knew all our neighbors.  I walked down the road to a small country store and bought honey buns for breakfast along with a papersack full of 5 and 10 cent candy and gum.  We would walk down to the creek and swim.  I road my bike to friend’s houses.  We didn’t have a lot when I was growing up, but I had no idea until I was older and more mature.  I never felt I was lacking as far as material things.

What about today?  Kids are being showered with toys and candy every time they go somewhere just for being good in the store or to keep them quiet.  They rarely play outside.  They are watching shows that are developmentally more advanced than their little minds are.  Their face is glued to an electronic device of some sort daily.  They expect things to be given to them versus earning it through work (chores, helping a neighbor, etc).  And need I say it, many parents have no set rules in the home or little structure for their children to know what is expected of them.

That in turn leaves us with children who have little tolerance for idle time.  They are easily bored and can’t sit still and be quiet because they are used to constant entertainment of some sort.  Their imagination is lacking.  They have no patience and struggle to wait for reward because they are so used to immediate gratification.  They are disrespectful not only to their “elders” (as we were always taught to respect our elders) and struggle with authority figures.  They are constantly being reprimanded at school.  (I won’t even get started on how the school system’s changes may be negatively affecting this too.  That’s a post in itself.)

Then parents take them to a professional and explain that something is wrong with this child.  He is always in trouble.  He can’t sit still.  She talks back all the time.  I can’t get him to listen!    The parent throws out ideas of ADHD…  A doctor has maybe even suggested Oppositional Defiance.  And then……a diagnosis is slapped on their head for the rest of their life. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes these diagnoses are accurate and helpful (sometimes…), but many times the child is overstimulated, overly attended to, and lacking some parental guidance. So, how do you treat that?

I would like to continue this with a series of parenting tips to help you make some changes where you see the need.  Join me in the next few posts and share with me areas you struggle with the most as a parent.

Must Read Parenting Book

 

Raisingkids

I’m a little late posting this as I have had my nose in multiple parenting books.  Raising Kids You Actually Like by Sheila Wray Gregoire is a good read.  It’s basic parenting that we all need to be reminded of.  The way we used to be parented has been forgotten and many parents today feel they lack these basic tools to discipline and train their children.  “We have more education and we’ve forgotten.  Provide structure. Provide stability by loving your spouse. Care for your children’s bodies by feeding them and putting them to bed.” (Loc 69)

 

I would like to share a few excerpts from her book…I love her humor and candidness.  If you’ve never read anything of Sheila’s, I encourage you to check out her blog at To Love Honor and Vacuum where she gives advice on marriage, parenting, and sex from a Christian view.

I will let her book do the talking here:

“Power struggles with smaller children are easier to defeat than power struggles with teenagers.  Yet too many parents give up in the early years…” (Loc 101)

“I once read about a dad who dialed 911 when he discovered that his teenage daughter had posted naked pictures of herself on Facebook.  He was desperate, and to him this was an emergency.  The dispatcher, though, wasn’t amused.  She wasn’t in the position to do anything about it, because she wasn’t the girl’s parent.  He was.” (Loc 98)

“…children can’t obey if no rules are laid down.” (Loc 98)

“If we don’t stress discipline when the children are young, then children don’t internalize self-discipline, or values, or even simple politeness.” (Loc 111)

If you need encouragement to remind you that you have the skills and tools to parent your children, then this ebook is a great way to motivate you and remind you that you can do this.

As a parent, we have the job of training, molding, and shaping the lives of our children to become strong, healthy, successful adults.  That’s what we are doing here.  Making responsible adults.  However, if we aren’t disciplining them and nurturing them the way we are intended to, they become irresponsible adults who lack motivation and struggle to develop healthy relationships.  The power is in the parenting.

 

Happy Reading,

Dayna

 

 

Parenting with Boundaries

boundariesinkids

It’s important as a therapist to have tools readily available to utilize in our work and to provide resources for clients.  I want to provide resources that I know work, so you can depend on me to give you tools that will help you be successful in parenting.

This month, I am reading through Boundaries With Kids by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  When working with children, it’s important that parents are providing necessary structure in the home.  Children need to learn boundaries in order to grow and develop to become successful adults.

For some reason, it seems as the years have gone by that we as a society have forgotten how to set boundaries when parenting.  I hear older adults respond that “young people seem to be telling their parents what to do”.  Youth today struggle with patience, self-esteem, boundaries.  This is not a new struggle, but it is different from the struggle adults today had with technology so prevalent today.  There is less structure now, less accountability, and fewer parents are monitoring activities.

If you are struggling to develop healthy boundaries with your child whether young or teen years, I would highly recommend you pick up a copy of Boundaries with Kids.