Tuesday, October 4, 2011

5 Ways to Decrease Adolescent School Anxiety

School anxiety can present itself in a variety of forms.  You may notice an inability to perform on tests, overall classroom achievement decreasing, an unwillingness to attend school by increased claims of illness, and just an overall negative outlook towards their school career.  Prior to seeking professional help, consider the following approaches.

1) Talk About It - Your adolescent may surprise you just how much they are willing to tell you if you ask.  Question if something upsetting happened, possibly an incident of bullying or teasing, which are both very common reasons for school anxiety.  Also reach out to the teacher, and express your concerns.  Ask questions about their behavior in the classroom and in the passing periods.  Think about changes at home that could possibly be weighing heavily on their mind.  There are times that incidents that have little effect on us as parents, have a big impact on them due to their perception of the events.

2) Reinforce Previous Positive Results- Remind your student of times that they overcame an adversity or challenge and the end result was positive.  Focus on the actions that they were able to take, regardless of their feelings.  By doing this you are demonstrating to them that positive actions can result in positive feelings that will trump their anxiety.

3) Routine- Set up and stick to a routine for homework completion at home.  Adjusting from the days of one or two teachers to an onslaught of different faces, personalities and expectations can be incredibly overwhelming for students.  Having the safety net of a set routine at home, ensures them that they will have a period of time on a daily basis that they have your attention to ask questions and seek solutions.

4) Set Realistic Goals - If a child is continually making failing grades, expecting a jump from a "D" to a "B" may be unrealistic at that point in time.  Set small incremental goals and reward them.  Find what your student considers to be their monetary motivation and increase it in equal increments to their achievements.  In other words, do not set goals that are unachievable and do not over reward for underachieving.  Adolescents can see through the smoke and mirrors.  They know when they have or have not genuinely earned something.

5) Model a Spirit of Gratitude - Often anxiety for adolescents can come from feelings of social inferiority.  "Susie has beautiful clothes, perfect smile and a big home.  Johnny has a new truck and is friends with everyone." On a daily basis remind your child that they are a child of God by speaking words of encouragement and praise for the gift that they are from God.  Model your gratefulness for your blessings by giving thanks daily for the small things that God has provided.  Allow your adolescent to hear this and be a part of your praise and worship.  This teaches your child to focus on the haves in his or her life and not the have nots.  They will soon learn what is truly important in life.

If you have tried these suggestions for several weeks and the anxiety continues to disrupt your student's daily life, it is time to seek professional help.  School anxiety is not a psychiatric diagnosis.  Yet, if it is severe enough, it could be a symptom of an anxiety disorder.


A biblically-based study designed to help parents, youth workers, teachers and pastors better understand the teenage years and to help teens undergo a successful transition into adulthood.  We'll discuss the cultural pitfalls of teenagers today and how to keep teenagers from falling into trouble.  We'll also discuss how to bring teenagers who are already in trouble back from the brink of disaster.  Mark Gregston has developed specific tools and practices to help teenagers excel and to help parents get through the often turbulent waters of adolescence. 

This is an 8 week study that teaches

  • understanding your teen's needs
  • understanding your parenting role
  • understanding your teen's behavior
  • understanding your relationship
  • understanding the purpose of pain
  • developing boundaries for your teen
  • understanding the roots of discipline
  • issues of control
Cost $90 per a session for individual/couple


Wednesdays 6:00 - 7:30 P.M. from Oct. 19 - Dec. 14
     Wild Ride Ministries
      23809 W Hwy. 290
      Harper, TX 78631

For more information or to register contact Stace at:
office: 830-990-799


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

5 Ways to Improve the Parent/Teacher Relationship

1.  Go to the source
The best statement I ever heard a teacher give a group of parents was that she promised to believe half of what she heard if the parents promised to believe half of what they heard.  Quite often there is very little truth in a rumor, but too often the story has changed and emotions have become involved.  If you have concerns regarding something that your child has discussed with you regarding the teacher or a school incident, make an appointment directly with that teacher.  And during the time prior to the meeting, do your very best to refrain from gossiping about the subject or seeking other parent's advice.  Too often that will lead to greater confusion and wind up making the situation worse.

2.  Follow the chain of command
As a former teacher there has been times that I have been called into the principal's office for a meeting with a parent and I had absolutely no idea why I was there.  And during almost every situation, it was a small miscommunication or misunderstanding that took place that could have been very easily cleared up with a phone call, email, or meeting with the parents.  Yet, I was not given the opportunity, because the parents skipped speaking to me as the teacher and went directly to the administration.  Often times it was because the parents just assumed that was the protocol.  Please let me assure you that it is much more effective to speak to the teacher first and then if you're still dissatisfied with the situation, then it is time to approach the administration.  

3.  Remember that the teachers are human
Boy….I would love to boast that I never made a mistake in my classroom.  That is so far from the truth!  There were days that I was frazzled, short tempered and then had to be apologetic.  Although I loved each and every child for their unique abilities, there would be times that the red tape demands and sometimes those unique abilities would cause me to feel a little overwhelmed.  It was during those times that I often made mistakes.  I would make it a point to go directly to that student to apologize if I knew I had done something wrong or correct a mistake in my lesson.  Often times as parents we forget that teacher's are going to make mistakes.  It helps when we attempt to have a forgiving attitude when we see a mistake rather than be critical.  It's even worse being a parent AND a former teacher.  That red ink pen is always at the ready.  But I must slow down and remember what those days were like.  They are doing the best they can with limited resources.  

4.  Help your student to see that it is not always so clear cut
Sometimes our children expect things to be good all the time, especially in the early elementary years.  Teach your child early that although the day may have been rotten, there has to have been at least one good thing that happened in class.  It could be as small as the teacher put out a new pretty tissue box.  That will work.  Try to help them to open up to the idea that with the good comes the bad, but more importantly, with the bad also comes some good.  Life is a mixture of it all on a daily basis.  

5.  Lose your helicopter license
Oh, I am so speaking to myself.  Again, as a former teacher it is SO hard to turn them lose to another educator and not desire to be right there in the middle of it.  Yet, it is so incredibly important to be involved, but stay a safe distance.  Give the teacher some room to do her job without the fear of you peaking around the corner judging her.  

Moving Day

Last night my son's Veggie Tale Bedtime Devotional happened to be over forgiving those that have done wrong against you.  It was amazing to see what a simple concept this was for him. In his mind it was an easy thing to do. Why?  Because that is what God told him to do and your heart must follow God, and well, because he is seven and has been fortunate enough to experience a life of love and support on a daily basis.  Therefore, forgiving someone for taking a toy is a simple concept.  But what about forgiving someone that has stolen your childhood from you or any other terrible wrong committed against you.  

I began to think of clients that seek assistance or adolescents that are rebelling and are filled with anguish and pain over wrongs that they have suffered at the hands of others.  How could I possibly take the clean cut view point of a seven year old and relay it to clients?  The longer I sat there, I realized that you have to pick up and move.  I don't mean move physically.  You move from your mind to your heart.  We let our minds follow negative internal dialogue and replay it through out our day.  We allow our minds to dissect and ponder an issue trying to decipher what someone meant by something and the "whys" of the situation.  Yes, forgiveness is difficult.  It is even more difficult when it is a concept we approach with our mind.  If we move it from our mind to our heart and understand that God will help us to forgive as He has forgiven us, we will see how much less intimidating and painful the process becomes.  It is truly for our benefit that we forgive.  

We serve a just and fair God and a God of joy.  Why not make a goal today of working towards moving forgiveness from your mind to your heart? Start packing those defeating thoughts into boxes, seal them with tape and walk them straight to your heart.  Once there, give them to God to handle.  He will unpack them and place your new hope onto the shelves of your life.

Proverbs 19:11~The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Love Letters from the Cupboard

We all love to have our secret space.  That special nook that no one else can invade.  Today while I’m toiling around in the kitchen and baking muffins, I see my son slip past me with a flash light, notepad and pen.  He proceeds to open the bottom of our food cupboard and slowly back in and close the door with himself inside.  For those of you that have raised boys before know that there are many times you just have to roll your eyes and say, “yes...that’s a little odd”, and go on with your day.  This just happened to be one of those moments.

I have to admit that as time passed and I lost myself in my chores, I actually forgot he was in there!  Then I heard a small knock from the cupboard that caught my attention.  I look over and out from the crack of the cupboard door I see a folded piece of paper waving to get my attention.  I reach down to take it and the door quickly closes.  On this piece of paper was a simple, but heart felt message from the resident in my cupboard.  It was a love letter.  A love letter that simply said, “I love mom”.  
Ah.  What a sweet little message to brighten my day.  Do any of us ever get tired of receiving love letters?  No, I don’t think so.  Even if you don’t have a tike in the cupboard to pass you these heartfelt notes, there is someone that has written a love letter just for you to read every single day.
God has written to us love letters to last every day for the rest of our life.  His word is full of His love for us.  All we have to do is read them.  Once you begin to read them, you can’t help but feel His love. So, open your Bible.  Read your love letters from God.  Everyone of us has the gift of a love letter from the cupboard.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chicken Scratch

After tossing the leftovers in the yard for the chickens to devour, I hung around for no particular reason other than to watch them scratch and scurry to feed themselves.  And then the life lesson started.  One hen in particular never once looked at the ground.  She kept chasing another chicken around the yard to take the food that it had.  When that chicken wouldn’t relinquish its find to the greedy hen, the hen went on to the next chicken trying to take its morsel of food.  All the while the hen never noticing that she was stepping all over the exact same food that she desperately desired to take from the other chickens.  If only she would have looked down.
What a scenario for our every day lives!  How often to do we run around chasing what others have?  That beautiful morsel that they hold in their beak seems so desirable to us at the time that we just have to have it.  We leap over obstacles and dart around corners and clumsily squawk our way towards the prize we covet.  Little do we know that we too are stepping all over what has been laid at our feet especially for us.  
“Better one handful with tranquility that two handfuls with toil and
chasing after the wind.” ~Ecclesiastes 4:6

Friday, July 29, 2011

There is NO Turkey Bacon in Heaven!

There it sat on the counter in its gelled mysterious form glaring up at me.  Fear gripped me.  This cannot be a good thing.  I mean, look at it!  WHAT is it?  It doesn’t even “sizzle” nor shrink.  As I close my eyes to take that first bite I remember,
“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you where you go.” ~Joshua 1:9
I always imagined that this scripture would be most useful for the young soldier that is about to climb the hill to face the combatant enemy on the other side.  You know, those life or DEATH situations.  I never imagined that it would come in handy for a chubby chic about to eat a foreign substance for the betterment of her health. But there it was, resonating as I was about to take that bite into the dreaded turkey bacon.
Why oh why would they invent turkey bacon?  Why oh why am I forced to chose this option.  Well, the answer to the latter is simple.  I chose to put myself in this situation by over eating in other situations.  See, it’s simple.  Yet, not so simple to fix.
“Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” ~Genesis 3:13
Ah yes!  So familiar.  That is what I used to rely up on also.  It’s not my fault!  I’m too busy to prepare meals, track food and get all sweaty and ruin my make-up.  Make-up isn’t cheap you know! I have things to do, places to be, people to make happy.  But I forgot that while I was running, going and doing my baggage was getting heavier.  And I don’t simply mean the baggage on my caboose.  I mean my spiritual baggage.  I was not taking responsibility and was blaming others or situations for my choices.  I had a choice to be led astray or to resist temptation.  And so do you.  We must honor God by resisting the urges to eat foods that are not part of our weight loss plan.
Here is the silver lining!  Not only do we achieve better health and well-being while we are here, we can go day by day knowing that there is no turkey bacon in Heaven.  That bizarre gelatin mold formed from mysterious parts of a turkey cannot be a Godly thing. I can picture it now.  I walk through those pearly gates and the LORD turns to me and says, “Ahead on your left you will find the A La Carte Zero Calerio Restaurante.  Eat, drink, be merry with your friends and family!”  Well, maybe not in those exact terms.
We must honor the LORD God almighty in ALL that we do including making the right choices for our health.  Give thanks before each meal and ask on a daily basis for the strength and courage to make the right choices so that you may reap the reward of a turkey bacon-less Heaven later.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Calmer, Happier, Easier Mealtimes!

Have calmer, happier and easier mealtimes.  Try the First Plate approach for yourself and then share your experiences!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Say WHAT?!?!

Having almost twenty years experience working with children and adolescents, there is one common thread that always emerges amongst them.  No matter how shiny the halo, they will all dip their toe in this pool.  It's the ever dreaded sassy mouth syndrome, the short person's ability to scrape their nails straight down their parent's chalk board.

One of the most important things to remember when facing a child that is experimenting with pushing your buttons by using sarcasm, is that the behavior needs power to continue.  Therefore, do not give it more power.  If you are faced with a sarcastic remark from your child turn to them and say, "Please don't speak to me that way.  I don't like it." And then leave the room.  When you leave the room you take the power of the situation with you.  There is no one there for them to continue to taunt.  

With older children you could try putting them on the spot by responding with a question such as, "Why do you use sarcasm when I ask you about ___________?"  If they deny being smart with you, remember to take the power back and simply say, "Alright.  Let's refocus on what we were doing.  And please remember, I do not like it when you use speak sarcastically."  And move on.  Do not rehash it no matter how tempting it may be and how frustrated you are.  Remove the fuel from the fire and move on.

If you feel that your child is going beyond simple sarcasm and could possibly be crossing over into verbally abusive behavior, please contact a professional for help.  Behavior that is harmful to themselves or someone else is best dealt with by a professional.  There are many Christian counselors out there that are trained to help families deal with this issue.  If you are unsure if the behavior is abusive, do some research.  I've posted a link for an article below that could help define the boundaries.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Strong Marriage, Secure Kids

This is a wonderful article from Joyce Meyer's Ministries magazine expressing the importance the actions and role of parents play on the foundation of the child's sense of security.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Augh! Stop Talking!

How grand life would be if I came with a pause button.  If I could run my thoughts like a DVR it would be smooth sailing for this ferry over troubled waters. It's taken me quite some time to realize that I was the one stirring the waters.  

Over the next few days, my posts will carry the same theme.  Staying quiet, mentally and literally.  "In my humble opinion" there is no one that can shoot straighter on this topic other than Joyce Meyers.  This post contains a brief synopsis from her teachings on the subject of STRIFE.  What a nasty little word that I have slow danced with on a daily basis.

Life Without Strife: How God Can Heal and Restore Broken Relationships
  • Author: Joyce Meyer
  • Length: 213
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Publisher: Charisma House; Revised edition

Description of Life Without Strife:
Today, the spirit of strife and contention is destroying churches, marriages and families, friendships and relationships with God. Bible teacher, Joyce Meyer, holds out the possibility of Life Without Strife by heeding biblical instruction. Strife does not have to destroy your life! The Bible contains wonderful promises of God for peace and harmony. In this book, you will discover: Why strife destroys churches How to disagree agreeably The answer to strife between parents and children How strife affects the anointing How to forgive quickly in difficult situations How spiritual power is released through unity and harmony Now you can use the interactive study questions at the end of each chapter to learn to apply these principles to your own life---and share your journey through group studies as you learn together.

Information on Life Without Strife from the publisher:
Today the spirit of strife and contention is destroying churches, marriages and families, friendships and relationships with God. Bible teacher Joyce Meyer holds out the possibility of Life Without Strife by heeding biblical instruction.

About Joyce Meyer:
Joyce Meyer is an internationally recognized minister and author of thirty-seven books, including best-sellers, "Beauty for Ashes," and the "Battlefield of the Mind." Joyce is the founder of Life in the Word, Inc. and she broadcasts "Life in the Word" radio and television programs on hundreds of stations worldwide.

Description of Joyce Meyer, author of Life Without Strife:
Has Satan stolen the peace of God in your life? Do you have troubled, broken relationships with those around you? Strife does not have to destroy your life. The Bible contains wonderful promises of God for peace and harmony. In this book you will discover why strife destroys churches, how to disagree agreeably, the answer to strife between parents and children, how strife affects the anointing, how to forgive quickly in difficult situations, and how spiritual power is released through unity and harmony. Now you can use the interactive study questions at the end of each chapter to learn to apply these principles to your own life--and share your journey through group studies as you learn together.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Uh....Duh! Because God said so!

Joel Osteen Ministries:
‎"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him." (Philippians 2:13)

Amen to that! When you feel those stirrings in your being that cause you to feel excited, not just excited, but compelled to act on a certain thing, that is God. That is God pointing you in the direction of your purpose. Almost a year ago I sat in bed one night after coming home from a church gathering and inherently knew that my life was going to be drastically different. I didn't know how. I didn't know when. I just...knew. At that moment a very clear vision of myself in the future was shown to me that night, and then later hidden away in the back of my mind, so well hidden that I forgot it was there.

The next morning I went on with life as usual putting the previous nights thoughts away. It wasn't until last week that I nearly hit my knees in realization of just EXACTLY what God had been doing for me over the past ten months and I just never realized it. How OBLIVIOUS of me not to see what was so OBVIOUS!

A few weeks after that night I got it into my head (again) that I wanted to change physically. I began a portion control program and making healthy food choices,again. I longed for an exercise program that would excite me. Shortly after that, a dear friend invited me to try her Zumba DVDs with her. I was hooked. As a former dancer, this was the answer I had been looking for to get in shape. Ten months later, (yes! TEN months and many many many pounds lost later) I am still hooked on the natural high and youthful feeling the classes give me.

Changes in my personal life began to take shape, at times painfully so. I began to center my life around positive people that wanted to live for Christ and had a true desire to know him. It was after ten o'clock one night in Walmart when I found myself loaded with Christian books written to guide people towards positive parenting, healthy living and living a life of joy. I spent entirely too much money that night on books, but there was mysteriously not a sting of guilt from this penny pincher for the indulgence. I needed, had to have, must have those books right at that moment and guarded my buggy just daring someone to take them.

And finally, the last major change happened just three short weeks ago. I woke up one morning and just knew in the deepest crevices of my soul that I needed to leave my job. It was time. The time had come for me to open my practice. So three hours later, I was unemployed, but calm and unafraid. And even at that point....yes....even then....I still did not get it.

It wasn't until the other day that it hit me, and I mean, hit me like a bolt of lighting between the eyes.  The very clear vision that was put in my mind almost a year ago reappeared. And I just couldn't believe it. Every single change that had been made over the past months, were changes leading me to fulfill that vision.

And now, I believe with every cell in my being, that is where God wants me. And that is where God needs me. Therefore, that is EXACTLY where God is going to put me.

How does this effect you as a client? Simple. It is now my job to glorify God through this fulfillment by praying before any meeting with a client and offering to share a time of prayer with the client. I am not a pastoral counselor, but I am a therapist that is here because....well....God said so.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Taking cookies from a skinny girl....

Before I even begin this, let me just say that I have no desire to offend anyone.  If you read closely, you will see that the person I am poking the most is myself.

I drove home this evening causing even myself disgust.  I had just spent the last hour moving my aging body in directions that it lost the map to several years ago.  I was dripping with sweat and causing even my adoring one boy fan club to scurry quickly away.  But through the fog of my own cloud, I could see more clearly the image of myself.  We all have that image.  The one we see on the inside, that doesn't match the one on the outside.  And there she was, looking more youthful and feeling more fulfilled.

I can't wait for the day that the two images are identical and the disappointing "aw" isn't resounding out of me first thing in the morning.  I can't count the times that I have scurried past a mirror or window without a care in the world, and then I catch my reflection.  It's at that point I find myself asking, who is that?  Because...uh....THAT is NOT me.  But, alas, it is.  Then you pick up your pride and enter into your adult world of work and play.  It is there that you run into "her".

She is the perpetual skinny girl with all the advice in the world regarding how you should better handle your body.  The one that stands over you at lunch smacking on her cookie while reminding you "It's a temple you know."  Uh...yeah...I know.  The not so nice side of you wants to take that cookie and....well, I can't exactly finish that thought.  Taking dieting advice from a skinny girl with no history of weight issues is not only self-defeating, it's down right tasking to the nerves.

Just as taking advice from a Christian that doesn't walk in the word........well.  You follow?  I know I do. God has put this on my heart more and more as I draw closer to opening my office doors.  If we are going to offer the advice, we need to walk the walk and not stand over our friends and family smacking on that cookie.  I believe that when we drop the cookie, our image of ourselves and the image God has of us will merge.  Therefore, making the trip past the mirror in the morning a pleasant awakening.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Frogs in his pockets and love in his heart.....

I never had the slightest inkling what I was in for when it came to raising a son.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't find myself with my head thrown back in laughter.  Sometimes the laughter was to keep from crumbling in a defeated pile on the floor and crying.

There are many examples, but one special moment comes to mind.  It frames the opposing images of rearing a son just perfectly.  There is nothing more that our son loves to do than to "fix it".  Last summer in an attempt to thwart the boredom that accompanies a summer without his new found school chums, I gave my soon to be kindergartner a few of Daddy's harmless tools and tool belt to wear and played along at his request.  He politely asked me in his best handyman tone if there were any "fixins that needed doing".  I explained that I had noticed a leak in the kitchen sink that he could possibly help me with.  Off he went to conquer the world of "fixins".  After a short time, he returned to let me know that it had been handled and I owed him ten fifty hundred dollars for the job.

Awwww...how cute I thought and tousled his hair.  That evening I began to wash dishes and felt warm water pour in a steady stream onto my feet.  With reluctance I peered into cabinet beneath the sink and there lay every piece of pipe neatly placed side by side at the base of the cabinet.  Oh, my handy man had fixed it alright!  I then spent the next two hours rebuilding our sink.

I wanted nothing more than to speak to Dr. Dobson himself at that very moment and plead with him to refresh my memory on his eloquently stated parenting advice found in his book, Parenting Isn't for Cowards.  Boy, could he have not picked a better title for that book or what.  Boys are a unique gift that should come with their own separate set of instructions.

There isn't anyone that can express that better than Dr. Dobson himself.  Below you will find a link to an excerpt from his book, Bringing Up Boys.  I highly recommend that if you find yourself hearing the words, "Congratulations!  It's a boy." You swaddle that baby in a hospital blanket and crack open that book.  You're going to need it.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

You can't hide from "it"......

We all have it.  You know what I'm talking about.  We try to hide it.  We make excuses for it. We even lie to our friends and family about it.  Once it catches someone's eye, we will hurl ourselves in front of the onlookers gaze and frantically point in the opposite direction..."LOOK!  Did you see that?" Guiding them by the arm we search the area for anything that could be a distraction from....it.

"It" is "the room".  You know.  The room that was once the guest room, the spare room, the craft room or the office.  Yet now, it is known as the catch all room.  It has become the Smithsonian of our after thoughts. Treasures that we feel will allow us to hang onto the past and future projects that we never got around to lurk behind the door of the room.  I spent the day starting to carve away at our once seemingly unconquerable pile of things to be filed that we tossed in the "office".  As I sat and sorted and tossed and shredded, I began to realize how much peace I was beginning to feel.  The anxiety that would start to bubble at the base of my throat when I would pass the office door seemed to subside.  I felt a sense of accomplishment and as if I was gaining a foothold on our personal business matters.  In other words, I was feeling more in control and less at the mercy of the anxiety.

This caused me to reflect about how clients feel when they are able to declutter that "issue" that is causing anxiety in their lives.  What a sense of peace must come over them when they are able to realize that the issue isn't impossible, but rather it is solveable.  Cleaning the room out will not happen in a day, but it won't take a lifetime either.  With a structured goal and a time frame, the office will be transformed into a peaceful sancutary.  The same can be said for an identified issue.  A treatment plan with realistic goals and a time frame can bring much sought after peace to a client.

Hard at work....

Stay tuned for upcoming blogs. At the moment I am participating in a crash course in social networking your business. Sure wish I had Cliff Notes.....