Once Again…It’s Back to School!

Hi Parents,

If your home is like mine, summer sure went fast and we are getting into our school-time groove.  Last year, I made this back-to-school post.  This year we are working on what I call “The Basics”.  Doing so is helping our transition into the school year.  My clients are also reporting that focusing on The Basics is helpful.

We start this process by identifying what our “Basics” are within our home culture.  I’ve talked about the 3 Family Rules that I believe are helpful for all families.  Kindness, Doing our Jobs, and Honesty are helpful values to teach our children and expect in our homes.  Other Basics like:  Getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals together, having a set homework schedule, having time to play, contributing to the home community (chores), having a hobby etc.  These are what I consider basic components to a productive school year.

As you consider your “Basics” what comes to mind?  What are you trying to teach your children?  How are you structuring their day/evening to maximize there opportunities for success?

Every home has a different set of expectations and what is considered basic behaviors and values.   Let’s teach our children that planning our day, upcoming assignments (how do you plan on doing this science project?) and evenings events are fundamental to success.

Because we are all busy, it’s easy to fall into the trap where we “fly by the seat of our pants”.  There’s something to be said about going with the flow, but planning how to get to a specific outcome has been proven to be the path to success.  We see this in all walks of life so let’s teach our children how important planning is.  Rarely do things just fall into place on their own.  Let’s teach our children to plan for success and for fun.

Planning is BASIC, so let’s teach it.  What is our child going to wear tomorrow, eat at lunch and accomplish during their work-time?  What do they want to do during their free time?  Let’s teach disciplined living by making plans together…and then sticking with it!

Another Basic is that hard work and accomplishments are rewarded.  Be it additional screen time (go here to read about suggested screen time amounts), or special activities, playtime etc, all are powerful incentives for a job well done.  We all respond well to all types of rewards.  Words of affirmation is also a reward that produces results.  Let’s make sure that our kiddos feel noticed and rewarded for a job well done.

Lastly, another Basic concept that I believe is important is that we don’t get to “Move On” until the job is complete.  Let’s combine the reward with the reality that we can’t move on until the homework is finished.  Putting off work until the last minute is a basic concept that fails.

 

Feel free to email me:  bill@focusedhelp.com

I welcome any feedback or suggestions.  I’ll still be blogging here my ideas on Children and Families.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

William Strong, LCSW

To visit my web-page, to schedule an appointment, or to email me a question, please click here:  Bill Strong, LCSW Denver Therapist.

Please go here for: Therapy Ideas for Adults and Relationships

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Yes Indeed, we are Back to School!!!

Hi Parents!

If you’re like we are in my home, or the home of the clients, school is in full swing!  Let’s stay on it as parents so that we can help our children have the best school year possible.

Let’s check in with ourselves.  How’s it going so far?  Are you as parents where you want to be in providing a structured environment for your child’s academic (and social) success?  Just what are you doing differently from last year as a parent and what are you hoping your child does differently?

Why is a “structured environment” important for your child?  I like to ask parents this simple question:

“If your kid had a job, what would be the best type of boss for him/her? The type of boss who says ‘I don’t care when you get here or when you leave.  Just get the work done when it’s best for you. ‘  Or does your child need a boss like this: “Your shift starts at 8:00 and these are the duties you’ll be doing until your 10:30 break.  At 10:45 you’ll be doing this until lunch, which lasts one hour.  At 1:00 you’ll be doing this, until your day ends at 4:30″.

If you answered with boss #1, Congratulations!!!  Your child is a self starter.  That’s pretty rare.

If you answered boss #2, join the rest of us.  Many children need structure to succeed.  They need plans, guidance, goals and rewards.  Simply put, they need parental direction to get the most out of their efforts.  Just what type of direction your child needs is best determined by you.  Figure out what works, and what doesn’t work.  You don’t need to go overboard to have structure in your home that makes sense.

Let’s start with some things that I work:

A set and scheduled time for homework.  I believe that most children benefit from a set time for homework.  They can plan for this time, and can move their play/social schedule around it.  Moving homework around their play/social schedule is a set up for problems.

A set place for homework.  Let’s show our children that it’s best to have a work station where we get in the mode for work.  I even have kids wear a certain hat for homework.  Anything that gives the message “It’s the time and place for work”, is most productive.

Say NO to TV and music during homework time.  This issue is a constant battle in my home.  My girls say they work better when the TV is on the the background.  I say baloney!  TV and music are distractions.  Let’s just make a rule that the work station be about work.  And that TV and music is for after.  Yes there are some exceptions to this rule, but watch out!

An offer of help when needed.  Be available for your child during their homework time so that you can provide assistance or support when asked.  I don’t believe in sitting there the whole time, but let’s be around during their homework time.  I often stay in the same room while I do my own paperwork or I read a book.  Be around but don’t be overbearing.

Have a reward for being done! This seems obvious, but you’d maybe be surprised at how many times parents give me a blank look when I ask what the reward for being “done with homework” is.  Every kid is different, but let’s have some incentive for our kiddos do get all of their work done.  A game, special snack, walk, or TV all are powerful incentives.

Ok, that’s a pretty short list that I’ll need to add to, but let’s no focus on what doesn’t work!

It’s their homework, not yours!  In their book Patenting With Love and Logic, Foster Cline and Jim Fay are quick to point out that we never want the child to feel like the ownership of their homework (among other things) is ours.  Never act as if it’s your homework, or that the problem is the homework not being done is yours.  Cline and Fay point out the truthful statement of “If you’re going to worry about it, why should I”.  If the homework becomes yours, so are the grades.   Keep a balance approach to this.  Provide guidance and let them own their struggles/successes.

Don’t “make them” do their homework!  Cline and Fay are also correct that you can’t “make” your child do their homework.  Your job as a parent is to give them the opportunity to do their homework.  A time and a place.  The rest is up to them.  No of course, they can’t “move on” until their homework is complete (more on this later), but that’s their problem, not yours.  I’ve known kids who will sit for hours playing with a pencil instead of applying their focus on the assignment in front of them.  If this is going on, make sure you have your child screened for ADHD.

Don’t over-schedule your child! I could go on and on about this one.  Go here for a great book suggestion.   Simply put, many children are over-scheduled to the point where they are unable to be at their best in all aspects of their life.  They live with a relentless to-do list, with their parents feeling like it’s their job micro-manage every aspect of their child’s life.   These are the kids who are eating at 8:30 because they have an after school schedule so booked they have no time to relax and play.  Home work at 9:00?  Yeah, that’s a good plan.   Let’s go with balance.  Know your child and look for signs of him/her being over-scheduled.  Have PLAY be a value in your family and teach that we need to re-charge our batteries to be at our best.

I’ll be back with more.

Here’s your reminder of the 3 Family Rules.  Post them and use them!

The 3 Family Rules

1.  We are Kind To Each Other

2. We All Do Our Jobs

3. We Are Honest and are Always Where We Say We Are

 

Feel free to email me:  bill@strongsolutionsonline.com

I welcome any feedback or suggestions.  I’ll still be blogging here my ideas on Children and Families.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

William Strong, LCSW

To visit my web-page, to schedule an appointment, or to email me a question, please click here:  Bill Strong, LCSW Denver Therapist.

Please go here for: Therapy Ideas for Adults and Relationships

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Here we are again! How can we help our kiddos have a good school year!

Hi Parents!

Last fall I wrote this blog about how we can help our kids plan for a successful school year.   I hope these thoughts are helpful as we assist our children/teens in setting new goals for the upcoming school year.

Here is a great site that can be a resource for parents and children.  Feel free to email me question about any of the content.

As you saw in my above link, I believe helping children identify what they’d like to change from last year is helpful in increasing their insight into their educational patterns.  Many students “start off strong” and then fall behind.  Let’s talk about that with our kids/teens and plan for a different outcome.  It’s often not just the student that drops off in their focus.  We as parents can do the same thing.   Think about it…school starts and we implement all kinds of helpful ideas to keep our kiddos accountable and focused.  A set homework schedule, limits on screen time (go here for screen time thoughts), rewards and consequences…all to help our children and teens stay focused on their schooling.

Then what happens?  Our kids are doing fine, the programs we’ve implemented are working and then boom, we become less vigilant as parents in keeping our kids accountable.   A month of that and our kids are behind.

I’ll be posting more ideas on programs that work for school.  For now let’s talk with our kids about what worked last year and what didn’t.  Let’s help them schedule their study and play time.  Limit screen time to an amount that makes sense!

Here we go parents…summers over and it’s time to help our kids focus on their academics!

 

Feel free to email me:  bill@strongsolutionsonline.com

I welcome any feedback or suggestions.  I’ll still be blogging here my ideas on Children and Families.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

William Strong, LCSW

To visit my web-page, to schedule an appointment, or to email me a question, please click here:  Bill Strong, LCSW Denver Therapist.

Please go here for: Therapy Ideas for Adults and Relationships

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Where to find help for the recent mass shooting in Colorado

Hello readers and clients,

I’ve received many calls asking for the best way to find help for the recent tragic shooting here in Colorado.  There are many mental health professionals who have volunteered their services during as we grieve together about what happened at the movie theater in Aurora.

If you or a loved one is seeking help and you do not have a current therapist, there are many options open to those in need.  I can be contacted though my website’s email: bill@strongsolutions.com.

Here are some organizations who are mobilized to provide assistance:

Aurora Mental Health Center:  303-617-2300

Children’s Hospital Colorado: Children’s Hospital has opened a family support line: 720-777-2300

GivingFirst.Org: is an online site for the Community First Foundations.  They are assisting those who are wanting to provide help for those effected by this tragedy.

There is help out there.  Please contact one of the above should there be a need.

A special thanks to:

Aurora Mental Health Center

Arapahoe/Douglass Mental Health Network

Mental Health America of Colorado

Bonfils Blood Center Foundation Thanks to all of you who have donated blood.  There is still a need, so please contact Bonfils if you are able.

Metro Crisis Services Inc.

Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance

Denver Center for Crime Victims

Thanks to all of you who have donated your time and services during this time of need.  There are many ways to help and our community’s response shows that we band together for health and healing.

Bill Strong, LCSW

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Mass Shooting in Colorado Information, Crisis Help

We mental health professionals are busy this morning as we respond to the horrific mass shooting at the movie theater last night.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.  Indeed all of us are effected by this senseless act of violence.  Many of us are involved in a crisis response.  It’s so sad to be doing this once again, years after Columbine.

Here is some information that may be of help as we deal with this crisis.

Aurora Medical Center released the  following number of 303-873-5292 for victims, families and friends to call to find out more information on the status of patients .

The Aurora Police Department has  set up a tipline at 303-739-1862.

Bonfils Blood Center to donate blood to help the victims. Their contact information is on their website herehttp://www.bonfils.org/. They mostly need O negative, A negative and platelet donors.

All of us will being doing out best to help.  Make sure you are around those who can support you during this difficult time.

Aurora police are asking that people stay away from the crime area.

Feel free to contact me, or any other mental health professional that you know if should you need some additional support.

William Strong, LCSW

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

What rewards and structured programs are working for your family?

Hi Parents,

Bill Strong Denver Therapist here.

We are already having a busy summer in my home, as are the families and children I’m working with.  This summer will indeed come and go quickly.  Let’s make it the best that we can for our children and families.   My oldest daughter was just evacuated from her girl scout camp due to the Waldo Canyon fire west of Colorado Springs.   Picking her up from camp was exactly what you might expect, a bunch of girls crying that they needed to leave camp early.  Smoke was in the air and the camp staff did a great job of organizing the evacuation.  Thanks to all who are fighting the many fires though-out our state.

Back at home we are very focused on having a fun but structured summer.  I am working with many families this summer on how they can combine fun events within a structured home environment. I believe that free time for kids is great, but too much of it is a huge problem.    It’s much easier to be structured during school with a set routine for the morning, afternoon, homework/evening and bedtime.  Summer is a whole different animal as it’s natural to be “less structured” thereby resulting in an increase in boredom, arguing and various behavior problems.  Rarely is an extreme decrease in structure a good thing for our kiddos.

Allowing your teen to stay up until 2am “social networking” or playing x-box live with “friends” night after night isn’t the way to go!  Let your child or teen have fun while sticking with a set curfew, bedtime and full activity schedule.  Stick with some type of program to monitor and limit screen time (go here to read more about how much screen time is enough).

I’m currently working with many families on sensible programs for free-time and screen time.  Let me go over one such program that I’ve found to work wonders.   Keep in mind that all behavior modification programs must be simple, make sense and must be followed to the letter by all (please go here and here to read more on rewards and behavior modification).   Let’s allow our children earn free/screen time by structuring what they are getting done by using a reward approach.

Let’s focus on screen-time and this idea is simple (as all behavior modification programs must be).  Start a  Screen-Time Bank, it’s easy!  Have your child or teen makes his/her own bank.  Children will have fun with this activity.  We used an empty peanut jar, covered with colored paper and stickers etc. with a slot cut-out on the top.  Older teens won’t likely have as much fun making their bank unless they are into crafts.  Regardless, make the bank real by having is mean something.

Once the bank is made, discuss what each chip is worth.  In our home, a blue chip is worth 1/2 hour of screen time, the red an hour, and the black is worth a movie.  Our kids can save 5 black chips for a night out to a 3-D movie.  Simple enough, yes?  Chips can also count for social time and other rewards.

The kiddos earn different color chips for certain activities, chores and responsibilities.  I like to freely give out rewards whenever possible.  I don’t want the reward to be too difficult for the child/teen to earn.  If the reward becomes too difficult to achieve, the child will respond by “not caring” about the program or reward.

For instance, in our home each child gets a blue chip at the start of each morning.  They can pool their chips for one hour of screen time or use it individually.  You an bet they generally pool their time thereby learning the power of cooperation.   There are all kinds of other ways for them to earn chips, and of course we as parents decide just what the limit is.  We give chips away from doing chores, good behavior, “going above and beyond” in ways that are helpful.  Overall they can earn up to what is about 2 hours of screen time per day…sometimes more and sometimes less.  That’s up to us as parents.

Now, just how and when do they cash in their chips???  Here is when the program gets even better.   The earning of chips has encouraged good behavior and the completion of tasks/responsibility.  Of course, the “Bank” needs to be open for a chip to be cashed in.

In our home, the “Bank is Open” once they pick up their rooms, putting away any belonging, and practice their instruments.  Once they do these three things the “Bank is open for business!”  Trying to cash in a chip (by sneaking screen time) or extending the screen time beyond what the chip is worth is called “Robbing the Bank”, to which there are various consequences.  The immediate one to robbing the bank is that the bank quickly closes and all screens are off.

Be creative in your rewards and consequence.  I’m betting this program will work as well for you as it does for us if you follow it and “make it real” by not allowing exceptions.

Feel free to email me:  bill@strongsolutionsonline.com

I welcome any feedback or suggestions.  I’ll still be blogging my ideas on Children and Families and would love your ideas and participation!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

William Strong, LCSW

To visit my web-page, to schedule an appointment, or to email me a question, please click here:  Bill Strong, LCSW Denver Therapist.

Please go here for: Therapy Ideas for Adults and Relationships

Thanks!

Bill Strong of Denver

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Summer is here and will be gone before we know it!

Hi Parents!

I’d been a while since I’ve had the time to post on this blog…it’s already summer.  What are you and the kiddos doing to create a positive and fun family culture?  I find that many of my clients identify many of their positive childhood memories from the activities they shared with their parents and siblings.

We just returned from a 9 day raft trip down the San Juan River in Utah.  It was quite and adventure!  We shared a lot of hard work, amazing scenery, and flat out FUN!  Go here if you’d like to read my blog about fun and safe Family Rafting.

That was the type of trip we try to do once a year.  With rafting season being short, we a planning other family adventures.  You don’t need to take a week off of work to plan a fun adventure.  We live in Colorado, but where ever you live make sure you’re exploring the area in ways that will make great memories for your children.  As parents we know that “time flies”, so let’s make sure we are doing our best to make the most out of the time we have with our children.

I’d like to challenge all of the parents I work with and who read my blog to work on their family culture this summer.  What kind of family do you want to be.  A  fun and playful family?  A family that does interesting things together?  A family that talks?  Or when we are honest with yourself (or our children tell us) are we in an angry family?  Or a disconnected family that isn’t that close?  Let’s work on being the type of family that shares the positive things life has to offer.

Look at your family’s culture.  Is there too much yelling?  Are kids not doing their “jobs”?  Is there too much “Screen Time” going on for the kids or adults?

We don’t need to spend a lot of money to be a busy family that is active.  Look into your local Recreation Center.  Find out if there is a pottery class, or swimming team…something that your kids normally do not do.  Music lessons?  Let’s have some fun and grow together.  Of if you’re like my family, we are going to do a lot of camping, hiking and and playing around this summer.

And remember the 3 Family Rules:

We are Kind

We are Honest

We do our Jobs

Everything falls into one of those categories.  Encourage good behavior and set logical consequences for behaviors you want to extinguish.

Feel free to email me:  bill@strongsolutionsonline.com

I welcome any feedback or suggestions.  I’ll still be blogging here my ideas on Children and Families.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

William Strong, LCSW

To visit my web-page, to schedule an appointment, or to email me a question, please click here:  Bill Strong, LCSW Denver Therapist.

Please go here for: Therapy Ideas for Adults and Relationships

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

My website is fixed and running

Hi all,

Thanks for those of you who informed me that my email link on my new website was broken.  It’s fixed and up an running!

I want to thank Michael at 51 blocks for his assistance.   I can’t recommend his services enough.  Thanks Michael!

Feel free to email me:  bill@strongsolutionsonline.com

I welcome any feedback or suggestions.  I’ll still be blogging here my ideas on Children and Families.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

William Strong, LCSW

To visit my web-page, to schedule an appointment, or to email me a question, please click here:  Bill Strong, LCSW Denver Therapist.

Please go here for: Therapy Ideas for Adults and Relationships

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

How are you being a service to others?

Hi All,

I just wanted to make a quick post asking how each of you are being a service to others or your community?  It doesn’t matter what you do for work, you can still use your skills to help another person, or group of people.  If you are doing so, you know the rewards take on many different forms.  If not, find something, anything that you can do to make a difference in the lives of others.  I believe you’ll find that you’re the one who benefits the most.

I’ll be posting more about this soon…feel free to email me your ideas and I’ll share them to my readers and clients.  For now, go here for some great ideas!

Also, another reminder to stop by my new website!  Go here to look it over!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

William Strong, LCSW

To visit my web-page, to schedule an appointment, or to email me a question, please click here:  Bill Strong, LCSW Denver Therapist.

Please go here for: Counseling ideas for Children and Families

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Come See My New Website for Strong Solutions!

Hi Parents!

Thanks so much for all of your emails and feedback about this blog!  I wanted to invite all of my readers to stop by my new website for Strong Solutions!  Go here to see it.    It’s still a work in progress, so hang in there with me.

I welcome any feedback or suggestions.  I’ll still be blogging here my ideas on Children and Families.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

William Strong, LCSW

To visit my web-page, to schedule an appointment, or to email me a question, please click here:  Bill Strong, LCSW Denver Therapist.

Please go here for: Counseling ideas for Children and Families

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off