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Habits – Good or Bad?

Habits – Good or Bad?

Why did you do that? “I don’t know” is often the response. Sometimes we are on automatic pilot and our actions are the results of a habit. Other times our actions can be the result of a lack of impulse control. What is a habit? A habit is “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary” (Source: Dictionary.com). Think about the things you do every day without having to think about them. What would it feel like if you could change just one “bad” habit or could add one “good” habit? If you are not sure if a habit serves you or not you may want to look closer at it. Monitoring an action or habit is a great way to figure out what the true impact is on you. You would need to be able to measure it. For example, keeping track of how much TV you watch (hours/day) instead of just deciding to “watch less TV.” See the difference? Good habit or bad habit they both have three things in common. According to Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit, a habit consists of a cue, a routine and a reward. Add in a craving for that reward and you’ve got yourself a habit – whether it is good or bad. To change it you would need to interrupt the cycle. Change the cue (ex. ding of a new email), the routine (checking your phone as you pick it up) or the reward (quick dopamine rush that happens in your brain and makes you feel good when on Facebook). You didn’t start out...
Change 2.0

Change 2.0

There are only a few weeks left until the new school year starts and we all transition into the start of fall. If you had the power to change one thing about this time of year…..what would it be? Think about that for a few minutes and maybe write down a few things. Now pick the one that would make the biggest impact on your life. Stop dreaming about things like losing 20 pounds, getting organized once and for all, finding a new job, being less stressed or anything else that is on your mind and start changing your life TODAY! I know from experience that sometimes, no usually, change is hard and often we don’t try until we reach a breaking point. That’s what happened to me almost 32.5 years ago when I “got organized.” What I have learned in the years since then has made a bigger impact on my life than getting organized did. No one succeeds instantly Change takes time Relapses are normal You CAN succeed! You have to be flexible It is worth the effort – no matter how many times you have failed before The end result is better than you could ever imagine! Often times we get so caught up in the moment that we don’t take the time to think through and problem solve what it is we are struggling with. I see this all the time with my clients, they “don’t know why x happens”, and they just accept it as if it is out of their control. But they ARE the one in control – with every decision or...
Summer Fun to Build Executive Function Skills

Summer Fun to Build Executive Function Skills

Summer’s here and the learning never stops! Sure no one wants to even think about school during July and August. I understand that. But if your son or daughter struggles in school with organization, planning or focusing long enough to get through homework, then you might want to build some of their executive function skills this summer while having some fun. Below are three executive function skills with some activities you can do to strengthen them. Once you start to see your child/teen improving you’ll want to be sure they “transfer” their learning to school and their life by asking questions such as: “How might a stronger memory help in school?” or “What a fun day. Your plan was organized and we had everything we needed. Can you think of any other ways that great planning might be helpful?” Don’t forget to mention whenever you use planning, or working memory strategies so that your son or daughter sees that those skills are used every day. According to Bloom’s new hierarchy of skills the first step is the ability to remember. Working memory has been defined as being able to hold onto information long enough to use and/or manipulate it. For example, understanding the rules of a new game and being able to play it while keeping track of other players’ moves uses the working memory. Here are some ideas to increase working memory skills during the summer: Write it down! Use a planner, smartphone app (Google Calendar, Color note, Evernote, Remember the Milk, Hiveminder, etc.), or notepad to keep track of events, vacation, etc. so you don’t overburden your working memory. Practice...
The Busyness of Back to School – Five Steps to Calm the “Crazy”

The Busyness of Back to School – Five Steps to Calm the “Crazy”

So much to do, so little time…..I hope that is not what you are thinking as we reach the end of September. It is a busy month for sure and often the transition from summer to “school” can make the new situation seem even more challenging. Here are five things to think about to make this year more manageable, less stressful and not quite as “crazy” as last year. Each school year is a new start. Although each grade comes with its own challenges, it also comes with its own rewards. Major transitions are in first, fourth, six (or whatever grade your middle school starts at) and 9th grade. If it’s a new school, take time to tour it and find the bathrooms, locker, lunch room and office. Notice when your child is struggling – is it a lack of understanding, frustration, distraction or boredom? It’s a new start for you as well. Set yourself a goal of making this a calmer, more organized year and notice what is getting in the way. This year fix it so that tomorrow is better than today. Don’t overbook. Children need time to play and be outdoors and they can’t do that if they are overbooked and running from one activity to another. Make choices and remember homework should not be an afterthought. Don’t expect your child to have any energy left for homework if they are going all day long. They have a right to some “free” time too and need it to recharge, so make sure homework doesn’t use up all available time. Sleep 8+ hours is best. Remember your role...
Back to School Basics – My Five Essentials

Back to School Basics – My Five Essentials

Just a quick reminder about some of the basics that  are important for students heading back to school.  It may not seem like much but it can make the difference between your child using or not using the systems and when that happens, not using it can mean not doing well. So here are my top five favorites: If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you have surely seen that I am passionate about planners. It doesn’t matter to me if your child has the greatest memory ever, if they don’t have it written down somewhere then for many of them, it just conveniently slips their mind. It can be electronic or paper as long as it is used. Most schools supply an agenda or planner but fail to help the students learn to use it effectively.  Deadlines need to be where they can be seen, not just written in on the day that they were given. That is one great advantage of using a smartphone app; it will remind you about that project that is due or that upcoming test if you set it to. Binders that open with one hand or rather one finger. Fill it with notebook paper (not those spiral notebooks that always get stuck) and plastic pocket divider tabs. Some schools require separate notebooks but it is really difficult to put four or five binders into a backpack. Your teen could probably use one and just clean it out each term. I would suggest a 1.5 or 2 inch binder. Label the dividers and leave an empty pocket divider in front for...