Author: Dr. Brenda Miles, Ph.D. C.Psych.

POSSIBILITIES PICK

The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years Authors: B. Janet Hibbs, PhD, MFT and Anthony Rostain, MD, MA Publisher: St Martin’s Press, 2019 Whether you have a young adult currently in post-secondary school, or a child who dreams of university or college, this Possibilities Pick is a must-read! Written by psychologist B. Janet Hibbs and psychiatrist Anthony Rostain, The Stressed Years of Their Lives examines the joyous, and often turbulent, transition from home to school during young adulthood. Dr. Hibbs and Dr. Rostain are experts in the subject of adolescent transitions—both as clinicians and as parents—and their book benefits from very personal and clinical accounts of young adults struggling to find their way.  There is great breadth and depth of content, here—all skillfully written with accessible language, clever analogies and sensitive observations. As adolescents face monumental challenges—like being away from home amidst the onslaught of new academic demands—the teen brain is fraught with hormonal and developmental changes. Risky decisions and impulsive behaviors—everything that keeps parents up at night—are products of an evolving brain whose frontal lobes aren’t fully developed enough to put on the brakes. This is also the time in the brain’s transformation...

POSSIBILITIES PICK

What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake: A Kid’s Guide to Accepting Imperfection Claire A.B. Freeland, Ph.D. & Jacqueline B. Toner, Ph.D., Authors Janet McDonnell, Illustrator Magination Press, September 2015 Suitable for Ages 6-12 years Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/2JMvoOn When I was a student, I worried about tests—a lot. Ironic, then, that I would spend 20 plus years in school facing the very things I feared: tests, exams, and all forms of academic evaluation. Obviously, I managed (sometimes barely), but things would have been a whole lot easier if this book had existed years ago when even a pop quiz made me quake. What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake is an excellent resource for children and pre-teens who struggle with evaluation and the possibility of failure. The eighth book in the popular What-to-Do Guides for Kids® series from Magination Press introduces an explorer theme which is pitch perfect in delivery. Adorable illustrations by Janet McDonnell enhance the adventure as children in pith helmets explore thoughts and feelings with maps, knapsacks and binoculars. Authors Freeland and Toner make the point—and they make it well—that mistakes are inevitable when exploring new ground. The characters explain distorted thinking, explaining unhelpful thoughts (e.g. “I missed the goal. I’m a terrible...

The Memory Mullet: ‘Business in Front’ meet ‘Party in Back’

If you’re an adult of a certain vintage, you probably remember the mullet. It’s a hairstyle that’s hard to forget. The hairstyle of choice for aspiring rock stars, the cut had two distinct features: short hair in front and long hair in back—or, as it was affectionately coined, “business in the front and party in the back.” Personal tastes aside, this was probably a tough cut for stylists to achieve (and a tough style for me to draw, obviously!). How do you take short hair in front and long hair in back and create a style that looks cohesive? No doubt, it was hard work for even the most experienced stylist. At The Possibilities Clinic, I talk with parents and students about memory a lot. I draw a lot, too—on the newly installed whiteboards—to try and illustrate abstract concepts from neuroscience, like how memory works.  When I speak with students about memory, I often hear this: “I have a bad memory,” or “I studied hard, but I completely blanked out on the test!” My next question is usually, “Well, how exactly did you study?” The answers tend to have similar themes: highlighting the textbook, reading notes repeatedly, writing out notes over and...

Possibilities Pick

Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities Author: David Flink Publisher and date: William Morrow/ Harper Collins Publishers 2014 Readers: Parents, teachers, clinicians, secondary and post-secondary students Category: ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Advocacy Link to purchase: http://amzn.to/2ANye0f Let me be honest from the outset. Often books for parents are text-heavy, uninspiring, and do little in the way of clearing a path for action (at least in my opinion). So, when I stumbled upon this resource that promised to be inspiring—with the word “inspiring” right in the title—I thought maybe this book might be different. Keyword: might. Guess what?  David Flink delivers, and I love, love, love this book! Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities is a book that crept up on me. The first few chapters are straightforward and informative. In Chapters 1 and 2, Flink covers the basics of Learning Disabilities (LD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and explains the danger of well-intentioned but misguided pleas to “just try harder.” Chapter 3, appropriately called “Take Action,” is a call for advocacy as Flink outlines, very concretely, how to support students with learning needs from all sorts of angles—by becoming familiar with education and accessibility laws, exploring interventions...

PARENT LIKE A SHARK AND RAISE A CONFIDENT CHILD
Parent Like a Shark and Raise a Confident Child

As a psychologist and consumer of pop culture (and popcorn!), I love borrowing from unlikely sources to inspire those “aha” moments that help children and families. ABC’s Shark Tank, a personal favorite in my go-to TV line-up, is one of those sources. It’s a show where brave entrepreneurs lay it all on the line for approval, mentorship and yes, even money, to propel their biggest dreams. So maybe you’re thinking, sure, my kids come to me for money, but where are you going with this? Bear with me. Here’s my pitch. Children crave and require unconditional love. They need to know you love, accept, and support them, no matter what, even when their ideas, dreams and behaviors don’t make a lot of sense to you, or you’re certain their strategies will fail. So what can the sharks in business teach you about raising confident children at home? Here are 4 strategies inspired by the tank. Avoid the whole “you’re dead to me” shtick: It probably goes without saying that Kevin O’Leary’s classic line, “you’re dead to me,” spewed when an entrepreneur fails to see the world from his perspective, is to be avoided. Your child will disagree with you at some point...

FOUR WAYS TO MAKE ANY TOY EDUCATIONAL
Four Ways to Make Any Toy Educational

Seems to me there is a whole lot of pressure on parents to buy toys that are “educational.” With the holidays around the corner, you might be looking for that perfect educational toy to complete your shopping list. In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t know what the heck an educational toy is. Really, I don’t. But from the looks of it, a toy is “educational” because 1) someone says it is, 2) it’s sold in a fancy store with other “educational” products, and 3) you’re told, more or less, “buy this toy and you’ll stimulate your child’s brain.” Sadly, these toys aren’t cheap, especially those backed by experts selling fun-tastic fertilizer for growing brains destined for the Ivy League. Thankfully, I can forgive my parents for failing to buy me fancy, educational toys. Instead (how dare they?!) they bought me, well, toys. Plain old regular toys. And sometimes they didn’t buy me toys at all (the nerve!). Sometimes I played with pots (gasp!), yarn (yikes!), and, wait for it, sticks (noooooo!). All these items were toys, if I chose to impose my imagination on them, and my parents made sure I did so by granting me free, unstructured time...

HOME DESIGN FOR ADHD & BEST PRACTICES
Home Design for ADHD & Best Practices

Well, the 2017 IKEA catalog has arrived and already I feel a love-hate relationship brewing. Sure, a love-hate anything is probably not healthy, but let me clear my cluttered desk with a quick swoop of the arm (oops—grab coffee cup before it topples) and settle into my quiet chaos as I explain. The IKEA brand boasts clean lines and organized living, not to mention fabulous meatballs and short pencils you can pop in your pocket if you choose to walk away with something other than furniture on a visit to any IKEA store. Seeing everything in its proper place—on shelving and on hooks, in bins and in baskets—is truly inspiring, and definitely worth loving on page after glossy page. But picture-perfect configuration can be deflating, too, (hence the hate part) if you scan your home and are smacked with strewn knapsacks, a scattering of shoes, and a tornado of toys. It’s easy to grant yourself a pass, and that’s more than fair. Comedian Phyllis Diller once said, “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.” How true! And with limited hours in any day, it goes without saying that meal prep, bath...

Four Ways to Create a Love of Story in Struggling Readers

A few years ago I found myself at a screenwriter’s course over two days in Toronto. Okay, I guess it was more of a mini-introduction for hopeful enthusiasts than a full course for the paid movie writing professionally if you insist on being technical. But for two very intense days I listened to Hollywood script doctors describe the elements of a good story—the kind of story that keeps you on the edge of your seat even when you already know that the good guys will win, the unlikely couple will fall in love, and the world will pull through despite imminent threats and cataclysmic countdowns. Good stories are big business—whether in books, on television or in films. Good stories keep us watching. Good stories keep us reading. Good stories keep us listening. As a child psychologist, I often meet parents whose children are struggling to read. Usually, those children are challenged at the single word level, meaning they find it hard to sound out letters and to blend those letters to sound out words. It’s tough to appreciate any story—and to keep track of even basic ideas—when sounding out letters and words is frustrating and exhausting. So what is a parent to...