The Candid Counselor

Helping individuals overcome anxiety, depression, and life's issues

Dr. Julia Becker

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Serving the greater Waco, TX area, including Woodway, Hewitt, Lorena, Bellmead, Robinson, and China Spring.

How to deal with kids who are “picky” eaters

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, April 21, 2016 0 comments

First, you have to stop using the word picky. Giving kids that label will set the expectation that they should refuse most new foods. Try replacing “picky” with more descriptive phrases, such as “Chloe takes a while to decide that she likes something,” or “Zachary likes his food prepared a certain way.”

Many parents think that kids are not eating enough vegetables, yet it is very rare for a parent to be concerned that kids are not eating enough pizza or macaroni and cheese! To get kids to eat vegetables, parents often try bribing, threatening, bargaining, or punishing. These approaches can result in a tiresome power struggle that often leaves a child feeling like vegetables are the enemy. The key is to help kids change their perspective and to think positively of vegetables.

Although changing someone’s perspective is not a quick or easy thing to do,  investing the time to do this now will help relieve some of the pressure parents feel at the dinner table. This change will also help to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy (or at least healthier!) eating.

To help kids shift their perspective on healthy foods, try some of the following activities:

1.    Encourage your children to help plant or pick vegetables and fruits. Seeing where food comes from provides a sense of pride and appreciation. Even having just a tiny herb garden in your backyard can help instill that sense of pride and appreciation. No time or space for a garden? Visit the farmers market. Talk to your kids about where the food comes from. Let them carefully select which peppers or bananas to purchase.

2.    Let your child decide how to season their foods. Experiment with different spices or toppings. Giving kids control over this small aspect will help them take ownership for their foods.

3.    Instead of asking whether or not they like it, encourage your children to say what they like and don’t like about it. For example, it was crunchy, it was bitter, it was mushy. Ask them to describe the flavor of the new food in as much detail as they can. Then have them rate the food on a scale of 1 to 10 to describe how much they liked it.

4.    Choose a “vegetable of the week” by asking your child which vegetable they would like to feature that week. Each day do something related to that vegetable. For example, one day you could research some of the health benefits of that food. The next day create a collage or other form of artwork showing the unique features of the vegetables. Another day might involve searching for the most delicious recipes involving that vegetable. At the end of the week it is finally time to eat and enjoy that vegetable!

These are just a few ideas to get your kids thinking differently about vegetables. Feel free to get creative and come up with a few of your own ideas!

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

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What should you do for spring break?

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, February 18, 2016 0 comments

Spring break is more than just a time to relax and take a break from classes. For many college students, spring break represents so much more. Spring break can be a time for developing and solidifying friendships, making lasting memories, and making sure that your college experience measures up to the experiences of your peers. Spring break can also be a time to catch up or get ahead on schoolwork, spend time with family, or work extra hours at a part time job.

Making spring break plans sometimes causes high stress for college students. Students often feel pulled among many options. In trying to do what they think they “should” do, it is easy for students to lose touch with what they want and need. Many students will go along with a plan because it is suggested to them by family or friends. You can become intentional about how you spend your spring break by considering the following:

1.    First assess your options. Without judgment, simply allow your mind to wander to different possibilities. For example, you might imagine what it would be like to take a beach vacation with a large group of friends, or what it would be like to take a trip to a different location with fewer people. Alternatively, you may imagine spending a week in your hometown or staying in town.

2.    Notice how you feel when thinking about the different options. Do you notice any physical feelings, such as muscle tension or stomach discomfort? Did you have any worries or negative thoughts about your options?

3.    Allow yourself to notice your beliefs about what spring break “should” be. Don’t judge the beliefs, just write them all out.

4.    Circle the beliefs that have the most impact on your decision or your inability to make a decision.

5.    Think critically about these beliefs and consider talking them out with a trusted family member or friend. Consider how much you want these beliefs to guide your decision making.

6.    Are you stuck between two different options? Consider what you will sacrifice by choosing one option or the other. What will you gain by choosing each option? Is there any other way to “make up for” what you would be missing by choosing the other plan?

7.    Think about how it would it feel to see your friends’ spring break pictures on social media if you decide not to go on a vacation. How would you handle negative feelings that come up?

There is not one right decision that is best for every student every year. By thinking critically about your decisions, goals, desires, and current life circumstances you can choose to make the decision that is best for you.

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

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