Choosing the Right Practitioner for your Child

In a world where too many kids struggle to learn easily, feel good and behave positively, there is nothing more empowering for a parent than to know how to Take Charge and help them.

If you read my blog or follow my work, you know that my mission is to help fill the world with resilient, talented, problem-free children. I do this by empowering parents with knowledge, tools and skills that will ensure that moms and dads know how to help their kids be all they can be.

Traditional medicine practitioners and children

The truth is that moms and dads have a challenge because conventional medicine does not always have the latest answers.  If you’re lucky, you have a physician who has kept up with the amazing newest developments and options for treating your child’s problems.  If you’re not so lucky you can end up feeling frustrated when you have tried several things, including medication, and yet your child continues to grapple with his or her problems.

Many parents don’t know that there is a treatment solution that is helping children finally get rid of their learning and behavior problems.   It is an integrative approach that heals kids from the inside-out instead of from the outside-in.  You will learn all about this in my book: Parents, Take Charge. Healing learning, behavior and mood problems without medication.

It is important to find a practitioner that has been trained to identify and heal the hidden underlying root causes, instead of putting a band-aid on symptoms.  I specialize in this approach.  There are many healthcare practitioners who do not. Instead, they are asking, ‘What are the symptoms, then they package these symptoms with a diagnostic label, and may prescribe a one-size-fits-all type of medication. They are asking, ‘what are the symptoms?’.   They are not asking, ‘why is this happening?’  And so, the root causes are never identified or healed. This is why so many kids have diagnostic labels hung around their necks, may be taking medication and yet are unable to overcome their learning, behavior or mood challenges.


Here are five tips for interviewing and choosing the right healthcare practitioner for your child.


1. Gather Your Courage and Take Charge!

Being a Take Charge mom or dad means being your child’s advocate and voice.  It’s like campaigning for your child.  This requires chutzpah and courage, as well as the ability to be forthright about your requirements and expectations.   Remember that you are the greatest advocate for your child’s treatment and care.  Ask the tough questions and be assertive – your child’s future depends on it.


2. Ask these Questions

You want to be sure that the practitioner you choose knows how to treat the whole child – not just the symptoms and treats each child as a unique individual.  Ask the following questions:

  1. Will you look for, and treat, the root causes of my child’s problems?
  2. How do you do this? How do you identify underlying causes?
  3. Is your diagnostic and treatment approach personalized and different for each child?
  4. Do you treat the child or the diagnostic label?


3. Seek until you find.

If you’re not confident in the healthcare practitioner’s responses you may need to shop around for a practitioner with who is like-minded with you and your needs and values.  Ask other parents who may be dealing with problems with their kids.  Finding the right healthcare practitioner can take some time and effort. Do your research, read patient reviews and study a physician’s background, qualifications and approach before you even have a consultation.  Trust your intuition.  When it’s right, you’ll know.


4. Be a Stress-less Advocate

It is tough to be a Take Charge, courageous, focused and informed advocate for your child when you are super- stressed.  It is also not easy to be intuitive and present when you feel stressed and overwhelmed.  High, ongoing stress can make it difficult for us to make good decisions.

Healthy stress is good.  It helps us achieve great things.  High stress levels sabotage us physically, mentally, emotionally and every other way.  Your children need you to stress less so that you can be a great advocate for them.

Note:  Dr Sandy consults with parents throughout the USA and from all parts of the world.

Bored and un-motivated child

Why Your Child is Unmotivated and What to Do About It

There seems to be a lot of children who have low motivation and little desire or drive to learn, to achieve, to get better grades. So, let’s spend some time talking about what exactly does this term ‘Motivation’ mean?  We use that term pretty loosely as though we all know what motivation means.  The truth is, I think you’re going to be surprised to know, that motivation is actually a chemistry in the brain.

So, the question is why do some children have that chemistry that emerges as motivation, and curiosity and desire to achieve – and other children don’t have that chemistry? Motivation is clearly not something we’re not born with, so what is happening?  Why is it that in some children the brain is not working in a way that produces what we refer to as the behavior of motivation.

Well, the thing is this Moms and Dads, that in order for a child to be curious and to jump out of bed in the morning and love to go to school and to come home and do the homework with diligence and pleasure, we need a child who feels good about who they are. That feeling is the key to what makes the brain create the chemistry of motivation.

We talk about children not being self-motivated.  Notice the word ‘self’ in that phrase, ‘self-motivated.  If you don’t have a good, strong sense of self, if you don’t like yourself, if you don’t think your ‘self’ is worthy, then why would you be motivated?  So, what I am referring to here, is the underlying root cause of the lack of motivation.  The underlying root cause of low motivation is simply that the child is not feeling good about who they are.  They don’t trust that they have what it takes to achieve and so they don’t even try.  That is so sad, isn’t it?  But the good news is that it is so fixable!

So, what do we do when we have a child that is not motivated, doesn’t care about doing better or achieving?  Well, we must get to the root cause and fix the child’s belief about himself.  We must fix that lack of self-worth, lack of self-belief, and then what starts to happen, is that once they start to truly feel and believe that they are capable, that they are smart, that they are SO Enough, then the motivation comes naturally because that good feeling about themselves creates the chemistry in the brain which creates the motivation.  Isn’t that amazing?!

Bored child and parents

I am going to give you 3 tips of what to do and what not to do if your child is struggling with motivation...

1. What you definitely DON’T want to do if your child is lacking in motivation, is to lecture them about this.  No lecturing please!  Lecturing is very stress-inducing, it causes the brain to become inflamed and that is the last thing we need when we are trying to fix the brain to become motivated.  So we don’t want lecturing, we don’t want consequences, we don’t want to take things away, hoping that maybe they will become motivated.  That does not work.

And of course what it does do when we are lecturing them, telling them that …you  need to be more motivated, what is the problem with you …, we are actually telling them that they are not good enough.  And that makes things worse for them too.

2. The second things that we DO want to do is to become aware of the fact that there is an underlying root cause that is causing the child’s low motivation - and that this is that the child does not feel good about who they are. They just don’t trust themselves enough in order to achieve. This  awareness would cause you to treat the child differently.  It is a sad and difficult thing for a child to feel that they are not capable of being more than what they are.  So, we treat the child with compassion.  Not with frustration.  Not with anger.

3. Thirdly you want to learn all about ‘Neuroplastricity’ because we have discovered that when we have a belief which is a neural pathway in the brain, and when this is not a positive belief,  we can unwire and rewire that belief to become positive.  So obviously as a Mom and Dad you want to have the skill and the knowledge of how to do that – how to convert the negative belief to a positive belief - hat do you say when you are doing that, how do you engage with the child when you are doi8ng that – very important skill for a parent who has a child with low motivation.

Your child does not choose to be lacking in motivation.  They are not being difficult when they are unmotivated.  They are hurting inside.  And that’s where we go in and heal them and then the motivation appears.

In order to learn how to do this, I want to introduce you to my Video Parent Coaching Program.  It is truly, a one-of-a-kind program.  It is easy to do.  Very easy to follow.  All my videos are short giving you the tools that you need; exactly what to say how to say it, what not to do and what to do differently.

You can learn all about this program here.

Can you just  imagine what life would be like for you, for your family but more importantly for your wonderful child, when you help your child, by liberating the kind of chemicals and neurotransmitters in your child’s brain that helps him or her  feel motivated.  It changes their entire life!

Folks, it’s really worth learning how to do this!

Mother and child

YOU Can Heal Your Child’s Anxiety

The condition we call ‘Anxiety’ has now reached epidemic proportions amongst adults and children.  The statistics are staggering.  Yet there is no blood test for this.  We cannot see it on a scan.  So, what exactly is it?  What anxiety really is, and why millions suffer from it, continues to be misunderstood and incorrectly handled by too many practitioners and parents, and I believe that it is because of this, that we have a raging epidemic of anxiety today.

First, it’s important to be aware that anxiety is a symptom not a disease or disorder.  So, if anxiety is a symptom, we need to know the answer to the question: What is the source of this symptom, because when we identify and treat the source of the anxiety, the anxiety will go away.

Child hiding in pillow fort

What is The Source of Anxiety?

I would describe anxious children as, children who do not feel comfortable in their own skin.  As my clients always say to me … Okay, Dr. Sandy so what is the source of this discomfort inside of my child? Why does my child feel this way?

My answer is: ‘Your child is anxious because he or she believes that, ‘I am Not Enough.’  It is pretty scary dealing with life when you don’t have a good sense of self-worth because you believe you are not enough’.  Every child I have ever seen that suffers with anxiety, is a child that has a core belief about themselves that, “I am Not Enough.’

And then Mom and Dad ask the 50-million-dollar question – ‘Dr. Sandy but why would my child believe that he or she is not good enough?  We love him so much.’   And the answer to this is: ‘You, unconsciously gave your child this message about himself or herself.  In your well-intended desire to help them do better, be smarter, try harder, do more … you unintentionally communicated in a way that sounded like you were saying, …Who you are - as you are - is not enough.

Then these children begin to doubt that they have what it takes to meet the expectations of those around them and so they become anxious and are afraid to try.  Their anxiety and fear of failure becomes stronger than their desire to succeed.  And so, if we go back and back and back, looking for the answer to the question, why is my child anxious, we find that the real source of a child’s anxiety lies in the dynamics of the parent-child relationship.

Mother and child

Parenting a Child with Anxiety

As a parent, we walk a fine line between making our child’s anxiety worse or relieving them of this awful feeling that gnaws away at them.  And if we don’t know how to parent an anxious child, we could unintentionally make it worse. This topic of how to parent an anxious child is such an immensely important one because tens of thousands of children are not able to become everything that they are actually capable of being, because their anxiety keeps them stuck and prevents them from reaching for their own kind of greatness.

Doctor writing in notebook

3 Parenting Don’ts

1. Never push your child to do something he/she is afraid to do or doesn't want to do. When you push or nag or try to encourage them to do what they are afraid to do, you will be causing them to:

Release the stress hormone, cortisol, in their body and brain.

  • Go into fight, flight or freeze as a way of coping
  • Feel inadequate and worthless
  • And their anxiety level goes up

2. Never try to convince your child with logic that there is no real reason for him/her to be anxious. When you give them logical reasons not to feel anxious what happen is:

  • This negates their very real feelings
  • Makes them feel as though they are being 'silly or stupid' which lowers their self-esteem.
  • And actually, increases their anxiety level.

3. Don't let yourself build stress and anxiety about your child's anxiety. Your child feels when you are stressed and anxious and this increases his/her anxiety.

3 Parenting Do’s

1. Start by knowing one very important fact: Your child is anxious because he or she believes 'I am not enough' (not smart, strong, athletic, brave good ...just not enough). More than anything else anxious children need to know that who they are is amazing – that they are 'SO Enough' just the way they are. To change this ‘I am Not Enough’ belief, make sure that you speak about your child’s strengths each time you see these strengths being displayed. (but not in a conversation about anxiety). This way you will slowly rewire their belief of, I'm Not Enough' to I'm SO Enough.'

2. Anxious children (of all ages) need to know:

  • That you understand what they are feeling; there are times in your life you have felt this too.
  • Feeling anxious does not mean that they are weak.
  • There is a confident, resilient person inside of them waiting to be free.

3. Learn how to let go of your own stress and fears. This is hugely important because your stress is contagious. Become aware when your own stress and anxiety are affecting your child.

If you want to become skilled in freeing your child of anxiety, there is no better way to do this than to see my Online Program,  Healing Your Child’s Anxiety and Fear;  7 Ways to Help Your child Feel Safe and Love Life.  In this online program, I take you by the hand and show you step-by-step how to heal your child’s anxiety.  This program can change your child’s life for the better – as well as your life too!

To Medicate or Not to Medicate

Those who know me, know that I believe that medication is not a sustainable long-term solution.  You can read more about this in my book, Parents Take Charge: Healing Learning, Behavior and Mood Problems Without Medication.  Medication, on its own, is a band aid.  It does not identify and treat the real source of the anxiety.

I do totally understand that sometimes a parent may choose the band-aid rather than watch their child hurting.  And, if you do opt for medication, I truly respect your choice.  Please know, though, that the medication is helping manage the anxiety, it is not healing it.  Your child will be fully healed of anxiety when you understand, how and why, this symptom started in the first place. With this knowledge and information, you can begin to do what is necessary to heal the source of the anxiety and then, with the help of a practitioner, you can wean the child off medication, when the time is right.  In exactly the same way, if you have a child that is grappling with anxiety and is not on medication, knowing the source of the anxiety will help you understand exactly what it is you need to do to heal it.  In both cases, with or without medication, knowing how to parent a child who is anxious, is more important than I can say!

For more about how to heal your child's anxiety see: 4 Parenting Mistakes that Create Anxious Kids

Happy child with a healthy brain, body and spirit

The Real Truth about Healing Your Child, Spirit-Body-Brain

Dr. Sandy Gluckman, an integrative child therapist, and Dr. Alina Olteanu, an integrative pediatrician, know all too well that treating only the symptoms does not heal children's chronic health or behavior problems.

Together, they offer a natural approach to medicine in Dallas and Frisco, Texas. One that includes integrative pediatrics, a functional medicine approach and psychological treatment for childhood issues such as ADD, ADHD, mood disorders, anxiety, and depression.

Doctors Gluckman and Olteanu are educating their patients about the fact that compartmentalized medicine does not work because it does not treat the whole person and is, therefore, unable to bring about long-term, sustainable health and wellness.

They teach their patients how they have been 'trained' by the medical world to think of themselves and their children as made up of separate parts, and when one part is not working well, we seek a doctor who specializes in treating that particular part. In the years gone by, this sounded like a great idea, but medicine has evolved to the understanding that we are ONE integrated system where all the parts depend on and affect each other for health and wellness.

Did you know that there are several hundred medical specialties?  This means that doctors are practicing compartmentalized medicine, treating only the symptoms they want to see, instead of treating the spirit, body, and brain together as one. Doctors, Sandy Gluckman and Alina Olteanu, are showing patients the limitations of this approach by combining their areas of expertise and practicing spirit-body-brain medicine.

A patient could go to a neurologist for bad migraines or to a gastroenterologist for chronic constipation. Still, if these doctors are only treating the symptom and if no one is taking a step back and looking at the entire person, spirit-body-brain, the health issue resurfaces or gets progressively worse or new and different symptoms appear.

Of great concern to this unique duo of doctors is what this approach is doing to children who are grappling with learning, behavior, or mood challenges. Many children are labeled with all kinds of diagnoses and treated for the label. But a child is SO much more than his or her diagnostic label.

Young boy at pre-school class

No matter what symptoms adults or children have, there are always three layers of healing:

Physical body healing

This is influenced by genetics also by our lifestyle and diet, digestion, sleep, exercise. It includes everything we put into our mouths, onto our skin, and breathe into our lungs as well as including the way we use technology.

Brain healing

Optimizing brain health includes eliminating environmental toxins and improving nutrition through healthy diet and nutritional supplements, like omega 3 for example. Because the brain and the gut speak to each other, healing the brain also includes our gut health and microbiome. There is no coincidence, for example, that the majority of children with learning, behavior, or mood problems have some gut problems and vice-versa. Children with tummy discomfort frequently are anxious or moody. Brain healing is also influenced by the beliefs we carry, the thoughts we think, the feelings we have, and how we behave.

Spirit healing

The Gluckman-Olteanu spirit-body-brain approach is based on the scientifically proven fact that feeling good, behaving positively, loving life flows from a healthy inner spirit. Conversely, a hurting spirit creates a hurting body and a hurting brain. While the concepts of the "physical body" and "brain" seem self-explanatory, let us share with you what we mean about a child's spirit. This is the energetic essence of your child. It is the uniqueness of who the child is.

Stressed out business woman and mother

One more major factor

Chronic stress is the root cause of the majority of health issues. Stress throws the spirit, body, and brain off balance and triggers symptoms in each of the three layers of healing. Dr. Alina Olteanu describes it this way:

'Attempting to heal any disease without addressing the real underlying root cause, which is the stress level, is like trying to put out a fire with a water hose while also pouring gasoline over the fire.'

Mother helping daughter with homework

Parent-Child Relationship

There is a myriad of reasons why we can be stressed, but in the case of a child, the most primary cause of stress is a parent-child relationship that is not meeting the child's unique needs. As Dr. Sandy Gluckman likes to say: "Our children arrive with the perfect parenting manual. They have come to teach us. We need to learn from then what works for them and what doesn't.'

With all the love in the world, parents can inadvertently hurt their children's spirit, either by not understanding their children's unique needs or by not being healthy themselves.

A healthy parent-child relationship starts with healthy parents, in spirit, body, brain. Parents cannot give their children what they don't have, or more precisely, what they are not. We cannot expect our children to be happy, self-confident, brave, calm, and peaceful if we don't embody those qualities in ourselves.


  1. Treating just one symptom, in isolation, does not lead to true healing.
  2. A child's spirit-body-brain health starts with a healthy parent and a healing parent-child relationship.

Contact Dr. Sandy Gluckman, PhD at at 972 758 1246,, or visit;  Dr. Alina Olteanu, MD, PhD at 214-736-1954,, or visit

Worried child with parents arguing in background

Your Children can Sense Your Anxiety, Stress or Sadness, 4 Tell-Tale Signs

When our children are anxious, worried, or sad, it is very often because they are picking up that their parent is sad, worried or anxious.

Here’s how this happens. You were once a baby that grew up in an environment where you either felt happy or you felt not happy, you felt safe or not safe, special or not special. You may have felt excited and relaxed or you may have felt some anxiety, fear, loneliness, sadness or anger.

The big question is this:

Were you able to speak about your feelings to your parents – the good ones as well as the not so good ones?

Most importantly, as a child what did you do with the uncomfortable feelings? Were you able to tell them how you felt on the inside? Were you able to tell them about the feelings that troubled you? Were you able to put a name to what you were feeling?

If the answer is ‘yes’ then you were truly blessed. And if today you are a parent, then your children will be blessed too, because you will most likely parent them in the way that you were parented and give them the safety to speak about their feelings.

How you were parented will plays such a huge role in the kind of parent you are.

Child with healthy parents

If the answer is ‘No, I was not able to express my feelings openly and safely’ then this can affect you as a parent today in two ways:

  1. On a physiological level – these feelings are still buried in your nervous system, affecting your physical and emotional health
  2. On an emotional level - these buried feelings can be triggered by your children and by others causing you to do and say things you regret later

Now, let’s move to the part of the story where you became an adult, fell in love, had a child and became a Mom or Dad.

Unless you have dealt with the feelings you had as a child, you are still carrying these feelings locked in your nervous system – you are still looking at life through the eyes of ‘the child in you.’ In other words, you may have become a parent who is hurting on the inside.

And now your inner hurt (which you may or may not even be aware of, or perhaps are avoiding) is passed on to the next generation. Now your beloved child begins to store negative feelings in his or her nervous system which can affect their learning, behavior and mood.

I know without a shadow of doubt that you would never want this to happen. But the reality is that it does happen for every one of us who have buried some childhood hurt. When we begin to heal our own inner hurt, this will transform not only our own lives, but the lives of our children.

Sad child sitting on floor

Here are 4 tell-tale signs that your child is hurting inside and is storing negative feelings in his or her nervous system:

  1. Your child is defiant, angry, has temper tantrums, easily triggered – this is the nervous system’s ‘fight’ response
  2. Your child is sad, perhaps depressed, withdrawn, uncommunicative – this is the ‘flight response’
  3. Your child is shut down and in their own space – this is known as the freeze response
  4. Your child is anxious a good deal of the time, has fears, is perfectionistic, can’t go with the flow, likes things done in a certain way

If you are seeing any of these tell-tale signs, please understand that this is message to you that some of your own ‘stuff’ may getting in the way of you being able to parent your child in the way that makes them feel good.

Most of us have some early wounds that impact how we see ourselves, how we put ourselves out there and how we parent our beloved children. As Moms and Dads, we need to know how to avoid handing down a generational program to our children that will hold them back from being the greatest version of themselves.

I know that it is a difficult thing to think about.  But the reality is that if we want to help our children, we need to start by fixing the source of the problem – which is our own inner hurt.

To help your children overcome any learning, behavior or mood challenges, I would ask you to seriously consider looking into your own past hurts and heal yourself first. You have all heard so many times that on an airplane you must always put your own oxygen mask on before helping others with theirs.  This is the same thing.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can help your children – of any age - feel good, behave positively, love life and be proud of who they are -  then watch out for my FREE upcoming webinar: Healing Myself; Healing My Child: How to avoid Passing My Inner Hurt to My Children.   If you want to receive information about this FREE webinar, be sure you are on my newsletter list by sending me an email with the subjectSend me an email.

Thank You.  And I’d love to know what you think about this blog!

Confident boy posing with boxing gloves

Do you have an Anxious Child with Low Self-Esteem? 4 Ways to Replace Anxiety with Self-Confidence

A CDC Study April 19, 2019 found that 7.1% of children aged 3-17 (approximately 4.4 million) have been diagnosed with anxiety. For children aged 3-17 years with behavior problems, more than 1 in 3 – that is 36.6% also have anxiety. The question is why are millions of children grappling with that horrible feeling we call anxiety?

One major reason:

They have a low sense of self-worth. They don’t believe in themselves. They have come to the conclusion that who they are is not enough – just not good enough. And so, the epidemic of anxiety in children is accompanied by an epidemic of children who believe they are ‘not enough’.

Anxious parents raise anxious children.

If you have an anxious child with low self-esteem do you sometimes wonder how this happened? Do you wonder, ‘Why does my child struggle with these awful feelings that makes his life so difficult?’ The answer is that anxious parents raise anxious children. Well intentioned, loving, anxious parents spend a great deal of time trying to ‘improve’ their children or ‘fix’ their children by focusing on the negatives, more often than they focus on the positives. Parents do this out of fear - fear that their beloved children won’t be successful, happy, smart, popular, courageous, resilient and confident.

The problem lies in the fact that the chemistry of anxiety is very contagious - and, especially if the child has a sensitive nature. Children are so perceptive. They are scanning us all the time. They are reading our energy. They will sense your anxiety. This leads them to start believing that Mom/Dad are worried about me because they believe ‘I am not enough’. Soon they begin to be afraid that they won’t be able to meet the expectations of their parents, teachers and friends, because they are just not enough.

Parents arguing in front of anxious child

If you have an anxious child, Moms and Dads, know this:

Your child’s anxiety will be healed and gone only when you heal and reverse YOUR anxiety. This is because neuroscience shows us that what is happening inside of you is happening inside of your children. This is known as Interpersonal Neurobiology. Your children begin to copy your anxious behaviors, they start to think anxious thoughts, like you do, and they begin to expect the worst case scenarios, just as you do.

If we look backwards at your parents, the grandparents of your anxious children, we will find that one or both of them were also anxious, even feeling, ‘I am not enough.’ And if you don’t break this generational program, then your children will program their children to be anxious, perpetuating this awful trait of anxiety from generation to generation.

You cannot give your children what you yourself don’t have.

We all want our children to be anxiety-free, to feel whole and confident, to be emotionally resilient, and to love life. For this to happen, WE have to show up that way. WE have to be the living example of what being anxiety-free this looks like, how it sounds, and feels and behaves. Taking children to therapists to improve their self-esteem is ridiculous if they then come home, sense your anxiety and absorb it. The good feelings the therapist may have been able to generate in the child will dissipate and be quickly replaced by the same level of anxiety Mom/Dad are projecting.

Using medication as the answer is equally dysfunctional as is trying to ‘fix’ the child without fixing yourself first. I have parents who visit and tell me, “I have been on this medication for my anxiety for years, I want you to put my son on it too. It’s the only thing that works.’ What an awful message to pass on to a child.

Two mothers reflecting on how they parent their kids

Are you Brave enough for this? 4 Steps to Replace Anxiety with Self-Confidence

1. Look in the Mirror.

Have the courage and insight to take ownership of the fact that if your child is anxious, this will mean that one or both parents are anxious.

Understand that your anxiety is contagious. The chemistry of anxiety within you is being picked up by your children and is disrupting their chemistry, causing them to feel anxious.

2. Decide: ‘Enough! It is time for me to heal so my child can heal.

Do your research and find a trustworthy practitioner who can help you ‘change your brain’. I emphasize ‘change your brain’ because talking about changing will not heal your anxiety. Choose a practitioner who knows how to literally help you rewire your brain. When done with the right practitioner this is truly life-changing.

3. Avoid using the Language of Anxiety.

Become aware of your conversations with your children and others. Consciously stop speaking about your anxiety and begin speaking more about what you are grateful for. Let yourself become aware of the tone of your voice when you are anxious and change it. Realize that your words and your voice and your body language impart either anxious energy or joyful energy, which changes your child’s chemistry for the better or the worse.

4. Invest in your Healing

Changing our brains from being anxious to feeling joy, appreciation of life, gratitude, serenity and peace does not happen overnight or in a few weeks. It is an exciting and fulfilling journey that requires an investment of time to make this happen.

If you want powerful parenting tools to help you on this journey see Healing Your Child's Anxiety and Fear. Click on the link and learn all about my tool box that contains 7 videos, of 15 minutes each, that will give you the information and tools you need to free your child of anxiety. Using these tools has the potential to change the trajectory of your child’s life. Imagine being able to give your child the gift of an anxious-free life!

Girl using iPad on bed

Is Screen Addiction Responsible for My Child’s Mood and Behavior Challenges? And if so, what do I do about this?

The answer is YES!   But before I tell you what to do about this let’s talk about what happens to a child addicted to screens.   It’s a 4-part story.

Part 1 of the screen addiction story

Your child’s body and brain become overstimulated from too much screen time which triggers high inner stress. Your child’s nervous system goes on edge. And inflammation builds up in your child’s body and brain.  The stress hormones will cause your child to be irritable, tearful, depressed, or rageful; have temper tantrums or meltdowns; fight with siblings or friends; and be defensive or reactive.

Part 2 of the story

Something else happens.  The blood flow goes from the amazing frontal area of your child’s brain to the more primitive area of the brain. The result is that the frontal lobe is shut down.  This is not good news because the frontal lobe is the part of the brain that is responsible for impulse control, mood control, empathy, creativity, movement, planning, understanding consequences, learning from experience and decision-making.  And now it is not available to your child so they make poor choices, are impulsive, don’t think things through and can’t engage in meaningful conversations.

Part 3 of the story

This is a really unfortunate part of the story.  The stress causes fight-flight-freeze behaviors that can look like symptoms of disorders such as depression, bi-polar, ADHD, psychosis, conduct disorders, ODD, OCD, panic attacks, PTSD and others. So, practitioners are diagnosing and medicating children for ‘disorders’ that are not real disorders, without understanding that the symptoms they are seeing are related to stress, triggered by screen addiction.

Part 4 of the story

One last piece to this story.  We, as Moms and Dads, get stressed.  We feel frustrated, angry, upset and worried, so we argue and complain and yell at them to get off their screens. We may lecture and explain and bribe them.  We may punish then with consequences.  Now WE are in stress mode!  And when we do this, we create the very last thing we need or want – our stress increases our children’s stress level, their nervous system is even more on edge and their bodies and brains become even more inflamed.  And then they need to self-medicate with even more screen time.

Girl using smartphone in car

The Question is this: Which Came First?

Was the child experiencing high stress first - which then caused the excessive screen time as a way of self-medicating and relaxing?  Or did the excessive screen time trigger the overload of stress hormones and fight-flight-freeze behavior?

My own research and experience suggest that children are stressed and anxious before they became addicted to screens.  And then the excessive screen time increased the stress even more.  Of course, there are many reasons why a child could be feeling stressed and anxious.  But no matter what these reasons are, the fact remains that it is the stress chemistry that is flowing through the child that makes the child vulnerable to the excessive use of screens.  And if Mom and Dad didn’t realize their child was stressed or don’t know how to reduce the stress, the child turns to screens and can soon become addicted.  It is a way for them not to feel what’s happening inside of them.

Boy looking at smart phone

What Can We Do?

1) Come to terms with two facts:

  • Excessive screen time is harmful to our kids’ bodies and brains.
  • Our children have to live in a world of screens.  As unfortunate as that is, screens are here to stay.

2) Understand that the WAY we deal with this will either increase the problem or reduce it significantly. In other words, how we interact and communicate with the child about this is critical.

3) Understand that by reversing your child’s addiction to screens, you are actually resetting his or her brain and nervous system – which is a huge gift that will transform their lives.

Mother talking to daughter about screen addiction

Here’s How

Follow these steps:

1) Educate your child about the dangers of screen addiction. The problem is that they won’t believe you; nor will they take Google seriously.  I would recommend that you take them to a practitioner, who can explain this to them in a professional and unbiased way.   This way they will understand why you are concerned and not see it as you being difficult.

2) Make a committed decision in your mind to significantly reduce their screen time. Present this decision to them at a time when everyone is relaxed. Never at a time of conflict.  Explain the decision in a calm, loving way, while at the same time making it clear that it is non-negotiable.  It should be seen as the decision of a responsible, loving informed parent, not as a punishment. This is crucial.

3) Go for balance. Together with your child, calculate the amount of time he or she spends on screens, and cut this by half. Make the new screen time contingent upon them using the other half of the time for healthy non-screen activities. In other words, if they spent 6 hours on screens, they will now have 3 screen hours provided that they spend the remaining 3 hours on healthy alternatives, involving movement and/or engagement with people.

4) Allow them to briefly vent when you present this to them and then get them to focus on what kind of non-screen activities, they could become involved in.

5) Spend time with them brainstorming activities they can engage in to earn their screen time - such as, for example, exercise, being out in nature, practicing their sport, volunteering, painting, playing a musical instrument, doing their share of chores or mowing the lawn, walking the dog or a part-time job.

6) Once these activities have been identified, calculate the amount of time each activity will take. This way they know how many and what activities they have to do, to match their screen time.

7) Write these activities on a card, together with the time each activity takes. Place the cards in a container. Each day they can pull out a card or cards for activities they have to do to earn their screen time.

8) Make all screens unavailable at night.

Father reading to two kids

Much of the success of this depends on you as a parent.

Be prepared for the fact that putting this into action, will mean that you will have to make some changes to your lifestyle and become more actively involved with your children in ways you were not before.  (It is well worth the effort because screen addiction has extremely negative long-term effects on our children’s lives).

Your role will change from complainer, enforcer, punisher, worrier, and nagger to becoming a role model of this for them. You will share with them how YOU are reducing your screen time. Commit to this and let them see you acting on it.

Have fun!  And good luck.

Let me know your thoughts, your successes and your challenges with this.

See Dr. Sandy's online video coaching program: The 7 Steps to Heal Your Child's Screen Addiction

This program will change your lives and save your child’s spirit, body and brain.

Girl drawing on blackboard

Is Your Child a Canary in the Coal Mine?

I am so glad that you are reading this because it means that I have the opportunity to tell you that if you have a child that has any kind of learning, behavior or mood problems, you are truly blessed.  You are blessed because you have an extraordinary child that has come to teach you a whole new and evolved way of understanding yourself, a whole new perspective on life and a whole new way of being a parent.

I see THE most amazing children every day in my consulting room. They tell me such insightful things! It blows me away.  After many years I have become more and more convinced that children with learning, behavior and mood problems have a heightened ability to know when things around them are ‘off’ – at home, at school, and anywhere they go.  I have come to understand that these children are like the canary in the coal mines. They have come to tell us that the way we are parenting and educating children today is not working.  They know there is a better way!

These children are so in tune with the energies around them that they can tell when the teacher is stressed, or when Mom is feeling anxious, or dad is storing anger; or when mom and dad have negative chemistry; or when there is a lack of authenticity and honesty.  They can tell when someone is faking positive emotions, not being present or in denial about their own inner pain.  And because they do not have language to tell us this, they develop symptoms and difficult behaviors.  Their symptoms and behaviors are their way of saying, ‘Hey Mom, Dad, Teacher, this not feel good, this not feel right.  Do something different’.   So, it is up to us to learn how to read and understand the messages our children’s symptoms are desperately trying to tell us.

Children running out of school

We get it all wrong

Instead of recognizing them for their unique gifts, instead of being proud of the fact that they are differently gifted, and so in tune, instead of loving the idea that they have come to teach us, we see them as having ‘a problem’.  Our minds have become closed because we have become so performance and achievement orientated, so concerned that our children meet the expectations that are considered to be the norm, academically, socially, emotionally and every other way, so focused on the wrong values, that we cannot see the wonder of these children.

Having worked with so very many wonderful children who have been labeled with so-called ‘disorders’. I firmly believe that there is an extraordinary being behind what others are calling ‘a problem’ that is not being recognized. It seems to me that these children have an energetic vibration that too many healthcare providers, educators and parents unfortunately don’t understand and may even find uncomfortable So they call it a 'disorder.'

The tragic part of this is that amazingly gifted children are being misdiagnosed, over-diagnosed and overmedicated.  We are giving millions of children diagnostic labels that don’t describe the wonder and magic of who they truly are.  AND worst of all, we are teaching them to believe that who they are, and how they are, is just not good enough.  We teach them that there is something fundamentally off and wrong with them - when in fact the problem lies with us!

Children drawing rocket ship on blackboard

My Plea

When we label millions of kids who respond to the world differently, who think differently, who learn differently, we fail to see them as what they really are - visionaries and artists and healers and leaders and innovators.  So, my plea to you, dear reader, is this: ‘Please hear what your children’s symptoms are telling you and learn how to do something different.  Please understand that their symptoms are offering you an incredible opportunity to learn how to be a parent that knows how to raise a child who learns easily, behaves positively, is confident and resilient, feels good and loves life.’


And here is the most incredible gift you will give your children when you listen to them instead of labeling to them:

For the very first time they will start to believe that…

I Am So Enough

And their symptoms will disappear.

Is Your Child’s Behavior with Social Media or Video Games a Sign of Addiction?

8 Ways to Prevent or Reverse Addiction

Many parents are uncertain about whether their children are showing signs of being addicted to technology or simply behaving in age-appropriate and expected ways. When it comes to your child’s use of social media and video games, knowing where the line is, between normal and not normal, can be extremely important – for you as the parent, as well as for your children.

There are some experts who will say that you can measure this in the number of hours spent with technology each day. Some will tell you that if it interferes with the kids doing their homework or their chores, this is a sign of addiction. And others will say that it is an addiction if they cannot put their phones down or transition from a game to join the family for dinner, or go to shower, or…

I see it differently.

My experience has shown that whether the way in which your child uses social media and video games is normal or not normal, typical or addictive, depends on whether your child shows signs of anxiety, together with low self-esteem – or not. The higher the anxiety and the lower the self-esteem, the greater the danger that the way they are using technology could be addictive.

So, it doesn’t make sense to me when parents argue and fight with their kids about their overuse of technology. It doesn’t make sense to me that they punish children by taking their phones and games away from them as a consequence for bad behavior. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever because by doing this, parents are focusing on a symptom and not on the cause. And when we focus on a symptom, and start nagging about it and arguing about it, we simply get more of it. When we focus on the root cause, the symptoms go away.

As parents we need to realize that when a child is overusing technology, to the point where it interferes with their lives, this is a symptom of the child believing they are ‘not enough’. Children who believe, ‘I am not enough’ are at risk of being addicted to technology because they are using something outside of themselves as a distraction, as a way of helping them to avoid feeling the inner pain of their sense of ‘not enoughness’. Since their low self-worth is the underlying root cause, it makes sense then, that, as parents, this is where we need to put our attention and what we need to address.

8 Ways to do this.

Happy children faces

1) Identify and support situations and events that will cause them to feel good about themselves.

Find out what they resonate with (outside of technology); what their natural talents are; what they enjoy, and build this into their daily/ weekly lives. It could be playing a sport or simply watching a sport. Perhaps they enjoy being out in nature. Or cooking is their natural talent. Or they love dogs and volunteer at an animal shelter. Or they love drums and would benefit from joining a drum circle. (Drum circles are hugely beneficial in lowering anxiety and creating feel good emotions); or art and pottery classes. What about poetry. I could go on and on but you get the message. The point is that when your child does something they love and becomes more and more skilled at it, they are stimulating healthy chemistry in their spirit, body and brain.

Of course, this means that as a Mom and Dad YOU need to be insightful enough to realize what your child would connect with and then do everything in your power to make it happen. Be sure that these activities involve others so that your children can learn to connect with others who enjoy the same things as they do.

Note: Children who are addicted to gaming, texting, social media, aren't doing it because they love it.  They are self-medicating.  And that’s how they become addicted.

Family sitting in the snow

2) Have the courage to examine your values and change them where needed.

Have the courage to confront your own possibly outdated, society-dictated, ego driven values. Go outside your own areas of comfort and what you believe to be useful. For example, you might believe that if only your child would play soccer, they would feel so much better about themselves – and the idea of being part of a drum circle is weird and therefore you would not even learn about it or consider it – and yet this could be hugely beneficial to your child.

Mother looking at son

3) Educate don’t dictate

Educate your children about the actual facts of what happens in their brains with too much screen time and too many violent games. It’s HOW you do this that is so important. If you do it in an argument, they will not listen. You will actually create resistance and a desire for more screen time.

When education and knowledge are an active part of family life and are built into your family lifestyle, your children will be more open to listening to research about screen time and the brain. Don’t use facts as a stick but rather as a way fo teaching children to self-regulate.

4) Balance not punishment

Instead of reducing their screen time or removing their stuff, create the following agreement:

Screen time happens only when homework and other chores are done

They must use whatever hours of screen time they have available after that, equally between their social media/games/ and googling something educational that interests them.

They must be willing to share their learning with other members of the family so everyone can learn.

A great time to do this is in a relaxed and easy way at the dinner table. In fact, research has shown that when families eat dinner together, children show fewer addictive tendencies later in life.

Mother communicating with daughter

5) Communicate with your children in calm and serene ways.

Make sure that your communication and interaction with your children contains positive, stress-free:

  • Eye contact
  • Facial expression
  • Tone of voice
  • Posture
  • Gestures
  • Timing
  • Intensity

Mother talking to son

6) Talk more about their ‘being’ than about their ‘doing’.

Be sure to have conversations about things like:

What did you learn about yourself today?

What are you grateful for about your day today?

What made you feel good, not so good today?

What new knowledge did you discover today?

These kinds of conversations strengthen children from the inside-out, helps them to become more resilient and helps them to self-regulate. (For goodness sake – please don’t take them to a therapist asking that person to teach the child how to self-regulate!) You can do that through your dinner-time and other conversations with them. I’d be delighted to show you how easy it is to do.

7) Speak about what is working.

Tell them 5 positive things about themselves to one negative each day. And mean it! Your children know when you are not being authentic!

Mother looking into the mirror

8) Look in the mirror.

And last but most important of all, model the behavior that you want from your children. Your children are you. Be the living example for them of someone who knows who they are, lives their passion, enjoys their talents, loves life and feels good.

Above all, ask yourself, and answer honestly: ‘Am I addicted to technology?’

A Personal Note from Dr. Sandy

I am extremely concerned that the current situation could cause a rise in screen addiction, which brings with it physiological, emotional and behavioral problems. Children who were already addicted before the virus – as well as children who weren’t – are even more at risk of becoming addicted to screens as a way of passing the time and dealing with the anxiety. My colleague Dr OLteanu and I want to do everything in our power to help you avoid this. We understand how hard it is to set boundaries around screens, even in the best of times. In these challenging times, it’s so much harder. The tendency to give in to the children’s demands for screen time, as a way of keeping the peace and keeping them occupied, is understandably very strong. There are major negative implications of doing this, for you, your children and your family.

Please don’t do this. Let us help you.

See Dr. Sandy's online video coaching program for parents: The 7 Steps to Heal Your Child's Screen Addiction

This program will change your lives and save your child's spirit, body and brain.

The Top 3 Things to Heal Your Child’s Anxiety

Showing gratitudeAnxiety is a horrible thing. It just eats away at us on the inside, making life so much harder to deal with. It’s difficult enough for adults to cope with the feeling of anxiety, but imagine if you’re a child and don’t know what this is or what to do about it. The sad truth is that absolutely staggering numbers of children are fighting the terrible inner pain of anxiety. As a Mom and Dad, it is so painful to watch a beloved child, of any age, grapple with feelings of anxiety. We feel so helpless and unsure of how to take their anxiety away.

If you are the parent of an anxious child, a healthcare practitioner may have told you, ‘Your child is suffering from anxiety.’ Or you may have come to that conclusion on your own simply by observing your child’s behavior and listening to what your child tells you. But what does this term, ‘anxiety’ actually mean?  We have been conditioned to think of ‘anxiety’ as though it were a disorder. BUT here’s the thing. We don’t have a blood test for it. We don’t have a brain test for it.

So, then exactly what is anxiety? And how do we treat it?

Anxiety is a message from your child that he or she does not feel good in their own skin.  They have a feeling of unease about themselves which is caused by the belief that they are ‘Not Enough’. It is a feeling of unease about who they are and whether they are able to meet the expectations coming their way from their parents, teachers, friends and life in general.

Here’s how this plays out:

  1. Your child has an inner belief that who I am is ‘Not enough’
  2. This belief influences their thoughts. Their day is filled with thought after thought
    about how they are not (smart, tough, pretty, athletic …) enough.
  3. They are filled with doubt that they can meet the demands and expectations of their parents, friends and school
  4. This creates an awful feeling inside that we call ‘ANXIETY.’

Treat the ROOT not the Anxiety.

Your healthcare practitioner may treat your child in one or both of these ways:
1. A prescription drug.
2. Diet and natural supplements.

My own preference is not to use prescription drugs for anxiety – neither for children, nor for adults. This is just a band-aid that masks the symptoms. I definitely approve of making adjustments to diet and adding natural supplements both of which can help to reduce and manage anxiety.

If we want to remove the anxiety, finally, once and for all, make the anxiety go away, we need to treat the real underlying root cause of the anxiety - the belief that, ‘ I am not enough’.

Beginning Steps to Change Your Child’s ‘I am Not Enough Belief... to …

I am so enough

1. Make the connection in your mind that your child’s feeling of anxiety is triggered by a belief – ‘I am not enough’.
2. Don’t try to fix your child. Start by fixing your communication. Listen to the things you say to your child and what you focus on. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of spending more time speaking about what’s not working. We do this because we love our kiddos and want to help them ‘get it right.’ Ask yourself: ‘Am I unintentionally focusing on, and speaking about all the negatives? (This is how children decide that they are ‘not enough)’
3. Starting today, begin counting at the end of each day how many negative versus positive messages you sent your child that day. Be sure to use the ratio of 5 positive conversations with your child (about him or her) to one negative.

This is a good and very important place to start. In future blogs I will share some more important and powerful ways to create a pathway in your child’s brain that tells your child, every day and in every way ...

I am so enough

P.S. Although I have focused on our wondrous kids in this blog – everything I said applies also to us as the adults in our child's story.