10 Things to Consider When Your Child/Teen Doesn’t Seem to Care
“It’s so frustrating! I want my kid to care about his grades, but he doesn’t!”

“I spend all this money on dance lessons and it’s like pulling teeth to get her to practice—she just doesn’t care!”

How often have you had that frustration? There are many reasons for this all too common parenting experience, and here at Brownback, Mason and Associates our comprehensive treatment approach allows us to analyze the cause before jumping in with solutions that may not fit the problem. Here are some things to consider:

Is your child/teen consistently getting enough sleep? Insufficient sleep reduces motivation.
Is your child/teen consistently getting enough liquids of the right kind (not caffeinated, not high in sugar)? Low in fluids results in a sluggish brain.
Do you want them to succeed so much that your anxiety pushes them away? Can you risk allowing them to struggle, even to fail, so they can learn the importance of being invested in their responsibilities?
Is he/she depressed?
Have you fallen into a pattern of pointing out what they are not doing, rather than focusing on small steps of success?
Is the activity one that is important to you, but not to your child? 
Do you suspect that your teen might be using marijuana or alcohol? Both lower motivation.
Could your child/teen be ill with mononucleosis or Lyme’s disease?
Could your child/teen have a concussion?
Could your child/teen have Attention Deficit Disorder or Amotivational Disorder?
We can help you sort out the cause, and we can provide you and your child/teen with solutions.

Posted in Parenting
The Importance of Family in Treating Eating Disorders
Group of young woman in a familyResearch reported in the Journal of American Medicine Psychiatry in September 2014 found that family-based therapy (FBT) is the best and most cost-effective treatment for teenagers struggling with anorexia nervosa. The results of a randomized study showed that FBT, which focuses on teaching parents to help their child eat normally, led to significantly faster weight gain during the first 8 weeks of therapy, significantly fewer days in the hospital, and lower treatment costs than systemic family therapy (SyFT), which addresses general family processes.

Other research has shown that family therapy is far more effective than traditional adolescent-focused psychotherapy for treating young people with the potentially life-threatening eating disorder. James Lock, MD, PhD, director of the Comprehensive Eating Disorders Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, said “this study suggests that, however you involve them, families can be useful, and that more focused family treatment works faster and more cost-effectively for most patients.”

FBT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which we utilize here at Brownback, Mason and Associates. We have always believed that the parents play a significant role in the healing process and consistently include them in the therapeutic experience. Many parents have had the very frustrating experience of being excluded in their child’s healing journey, sometimes not even being informed of the therapist’s determination of progress, or lack thereof. From the outset of therapy, we work with the teen to be able to share with the parents appropriate information, while respecting the teen’s privacy.

This research recognized that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) often plays a role in anorexia, and here again, we have long known that and have incorporated appropriate cognitive-behavioral techniques that give the teen control over the OCD. We also teach the parents how to support the teen’s efforts to conquer the role of OCD in their eating disorder. Because of our comprehensive approach to treatment, our success rate with helping teenage anorexics to gain control over their eating disorder is about 65%, which is considerably higher than the national success rate of about 40%.

Posted in Eating Disorders, Parenting | Tagged eating disorders, family, FBT, OCD, treatment
Planning for the School Year – The Key to Success
Planning is like a good road map; it leads us in the right direction, keeps us on course along the way, and helps us reach our destination. The desired destination in your child’s journey throughout the school year is success. Here are some steps you and your child can take to have a successful school year.

Before school starts ease the return to nightly homework sessions by beginning a regular forty­ five minute quiet focus time a week or so before school begins. During this time your child should spend the time quietly reading, drawing, or writing.

If this will be a new school for your child, arrange for a tour of your child’s school campus. If your child is starting middle school or high school, get a map from the school office. Later, when he gets his daily schedule, review the locations of his classrooms on the map.

When choosing school supplies, utilize color, such as rainbow-colored index cards, which can be used for study flash cards, as color helps students with attentional problems tune in and stay focused.

Let your student select a large wall calendar for her room. Assignments, test dates, and due dates for papers can then be color coded on this calendar.

Encourage your child to use desk organizers, a file cabinet with brightly colored inserts, and boxes with information color coded by subject. The use of colored file folders helps students organize written materials and separate class assignments into distinct groups. These types of systems add structure and order to your child’s life, while keeping the process of organizing interesting and fun.

You can help your teen stay organized. As soon as he brings home a schedule, locker combination, etc., immediately make five photocopies. Place a copy of this information in different places, such as in your child’s notebook, on his bulletin board, and in his book bag so he will always have access to important information, in case he forgets it.

Throughout the year, encourage your child to make a list of what he needs to accomplish during a certain time period and remind him to keep this list with him at all times. If your child is having difficulty concentrating during class, especially in those classes that involve lectures, suggest that he carry a portable tape recorder and record important information.

Encourage good goal-setting by discussing with your child what she would like to do differently this school year and what goals she would like to accomplish. Discuss these goals and plan strategies together. Listen to what your child has to say and make certain she knows you value her input.

Finally, do your homework. Make a note on your personal calendar to call your child’s school at the end of the first week of school. Ask specific questions of teachers regarding their routines: when homework is given, where the teacher writes homework assignments, and if advance notice is given for tests or assignments. Then, suggest a backup plan for you and the teacher or teaching team to use in case your child experiences difficulties. For instance, your backup plan may consider the following areas:
• identification of an organized student whom your child could text or email, if he forgets to write down a homework assignment;
• issuing of an extra text book so that your child could keep one text book at home and leave the other at school;
• receipt of homework assignments a week in advance. (A teacher could email the homework assignments to the parent.)

Because we work with children and teens who have attentional problems, including Attention Deficit Disorder, and organizational difficulties, Brownback, Mason and Associates offers tips like these to both the parent and child and many other resources that help a child do well in school.

Posted in Parenting
Another Reason to Ditch the Soda!
Is your teenager out of control? Has your child been labeled as having oppositional defiant disorder or attention deficit disorder? From seeming out of nowhere is your child throwing tantrums? There can be many causes for these problems, so here at Brownback, Mason and Associates, we do a comprehensive evaluation within a holistic framework, rather than just automatically recommend medication. We offer many alternative therapies, and sometimes, the solution is as simple as looking at your teen’s/child’s nutrition.

For example, did you know that soft drinks can trigger anger, aggression, oppositional behavior and attentional problems? A study of 1,800 students showed that high school kids who drink more than 5 cans of soft drinks per week are 15% more likely to act violently when compared to their non-soda drinking counterparts. Heavy consumers of nondiet soft drinks—students who had drunk five or more cans in the week preceding the survey—were more likely to
have behaved violently toward peers (57 percent, versus 39 percent of respondents who drank less soda);
to have behaved violently toward another child in their own families (42 percent, versus 27 percent);
to have behaved violently in a dating relationship (26 percent, versus 16 percent); and
to have carried a gun or a knife during the past year (40 percent, versus 27 percent).
The strength of the effect was on par with the correlation (well known among researchers) between these behaviors and alcohol and tobacco use; in some cases, the correlation with soda was stronger. (David Hemenway, director of the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center, October 2011)

A 2006 Norwegian study has shown that teens who drink the largest quantities of sugary soft drinks also have more mental health problems, including hyperactivity and distress. More than 5,000 Norwegian 15- and 16-year-olds were surveyed regarding their soft drink habits, and then given a standard mental health questionnaire. There was a clear association between soft drinks and hyperactivity, and additional links to other mental disorders.

Most of the teens drank between one and six soft drinks each week. Teens who skipped breakfast and lunch tended to consume more soft drinks than others. The worst mental health problems were seen in the 10 percent of boys and 2 percent of girls who drank four or more soft drinks a day. (American Journal of Public Health, October 2006)

Also, a cohort study of almost 3000 5-year-olds showed that those who drank 1 to 4 servings of soda per day had significantly higher aggressive measurement scores than their peers who drank no soda. In addition, those who consumed 2 or more servings had higher withdrawn behavior scores, and those who consumed 4 or more servings had higher attention problem scores.

According to the lead author, Shakira Suglia, ScD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, of the study that was published in the August 2013 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics: “We were seeing a dose-response effect. So with every increase in soda consumption, the association and the scores basically increased.”

“This held up even after we adjusted for candy or fruit juice consumption and for a variety of social factors, especially for aggression with the highest level of soda consumption,” she added.

Because almost every soft drink has high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a key ingredient, soda has also been implicated in the obesity and diabetes epidemic. So, drinking soda may not only be involved with behavioral problems, it is also likely to cause weight gain. HFCS is not absorbed by the body in the same way as plain white sugar: rats that free-fed on HFCS showed a “48% greater weight gain, higher abdominal fat deposition and higher triglycerides than rats that free-fed on plain sugar water.”

There are many good reasons to not drink soda, yet it is difficult for many people to stop doing so. The counselors and psychologists at Brownback, Mason and Associates understand that decreasing the use of soda may be difficult, so we offer coaching and behavioral techniques to help.

Posted in ADHD, Parenting
Positive Parenting
Kirk Martin on his Celebrate Calm blog (January 15, 2012) was on to something when he wrote: “Instead of yelling, every time I felt frustrated, I would give that same intense energy to emphatically affirm him (his son, Casey) and his future:

“Casey Martin, I know you don’t always like to do your homework, but you love to learn. You are CURIOUS and ask the best questions. You aren’t great at memorizing, but you are a great PROBLEM-SOLVER. Sometimes you are obstinate, but I see PERSISTENCE and one day you’re going to use that and your BIG HEART to overcome obstacles when your peers give up….”

Another example: “Emma, you know how you are amazing at pushing people’s buttons? That’s because you understand what makes people tick. You could be an amazing child psychologist, a teacher or own your own daycare center. I know you feel misunderstood a lot so one day you’re going to help people who have been hurt. You have a great future ahead of you and I can’t wait to see it.”

Mr. Martin goes on to say “The very traits that annoy you most are the traits that will be most responsible for your child’s success in life. It’s just that your parental anxiety blinds you so you only see the negative side and how it’s manifesting NOW. Use that intensity to build your relationships instead of destroy them.

“Try praising your kids with intensity for one week and see what happens. This changes behavior–you’ll be surprised.”

At Brownback, Mason and Associates we believe it is very important to teach positive parenting techniques to parents and Mr. Martin’s approach to dealing with parental frustration by affirming your children is a great example of the power of channeling parental frustration into parenting success.

Posted in Parenting
Childhood Stress and Strength-Based Parenting
According to an Australian study, published in Psychology (2015), parents who practice strength-based parenting make a positive impact on their children’s stress levels.

Stress is triggered when demands are perceived as being greater than resources for coping. Since children have not yet fully developed physical, psychological and social resources, they frequently find themselves in situations they are not equipped to handle, experiencing stress.

According to Lea Waters, author of the study, “ the study examines the role of strength-based parenting (SBP) a style of parenting that seeks to deliberately identify and cultivate positive states, positive processes and positive qualities in one’s children.”

Connecting a child with his/her strengths increases the likelihood that the child will naturally use those strengths to cope with a stressful situation, rather than reacting with avoidance or aggression.

The author suggests two major ways for parents to become aware of their children’s strengths.

The first way is through strength surveys. The Strengths Explorer (Gallup Youth Development Specialists, 2007) and the Values in Action Youth Survey( can be completed from ages 10 – 11 onwards and have been developed by teams of psychologists to ensure that the surveys are valid and reliable. The surveys help parents and children to understand their unique strengths profile.

The second way for parents to become aware of their children’s strengths is through the practice of strength

spotting. Strength spotting is a process of observation that specifically looks to identify strengths in oneself and

others (Linley, Garcea, Hill, Minhas, Trenier, & Willars, 2010). Adapting Linley’s (2008) guidelines on strength

spotting to parenting, parents can look for 5 signals that point to a child’s strengths. When children are using

their strengths they: 1) are energized and display high levels of engagement during and after using the strength,

2) can become so engrossed they lose track of time, 3) show very rapid learning curves in areas that are strengths, 4)have a repeated pattern of successful performance in the area, and 5) are performing above age-appropriate levels in the skill or trait.

According to Waters, these methods can assist parents to adopt strength-based approaches

with their children, increasing the child’s own strength-based coping and reducing the child’s


At Brownback, Mason and Associates, our family therapy has always been built around a strength-based parenting philosophy. We provide training in many skills and techniques to assist parents in guiding their children to develop their individual strengths.


Psychology, 2015, 6, 689-699 Published Online May 2015 in SciRes.

Posted in Parenting
8 Helpful Hints For College.
iStock_000015266973XXLargeSometimes students with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) can make it all the way through high school without it interfering with getting good grades, only to find that the combination of independence in prioritizing tasks and the increased demand for multitasking in college overwhelm students’ ability to fight past the interference with learning created by ADD. Research supports permanent change for one’s cognitive functioning through neurofeedback, and we have extensive experience with using QEEG-guided neurofeedback training to free a person from the difficulties created by having ADD.   While learning strategies won’t get rid of ADD, they sometimes can help a student manage its effects.

Here are some that might be helpful:

Sit in front of the class: there are fewer distractions if you sit close to the lecturer.

Resist the tendency to skip class: build self-discipline and momentum in learning.

Hang a large wall calendar where you will see it frequently. Write down when assignments are due in different color markers for different classes so you can have perspective.

Participate in class and in study groups: asking questions helps keep your brain engaged.

How to get the most from your reading assignments: while this technique may seem like a lot of work, it will actually save you time because it keeps you from tuning out while reading and protects you from studying material that you have already mastered.
Read one paragraph at a time. At the end of the paragraph, decide what was the main point/points.
Write each main point down on an index card in the form of a question. Put the answer on the other side of the index card.
By the end of one chapter, you may have as many as 100 cards filled out.
Go through the cards and read each question.
If you don’t know the answer, put an X on the top.
If you do know the answer, put a check.
Once you have a card with 5 checks on it, put in a review pack.
Keep testing yourself on the cards with less than 5 checks.
If you find you keep struggling with the same several cards, ask yourself why: perhaps you need some additional help with a concept, perhaps you need a mnemonic device to help you remember, etc.
Before a test, review all the cards that are now in the review pack.

How to take notes in class. Keep on the writing surface a post-it with BROILV
B: Write down anything the teacher writes on the board. Why? Because writing on a board takes effort beyond talking, so it is probably important to the lecturer.

R: Write down anything the lecturer says twice

O: Write down anything the lecturer says will be on the test, and then put a * beside it.

I: Write down anything the lecturer says is important or in some way indicates that it is significant.

L: Write down any lists of information

V: Write down any new words, items, terms, places, dates or people

Create as much structure as you can possibly be comfortable with. The more routines you have, the less likely you are to allow a responsibility to fall through the cracks. Structure includes:
Lists (and whenever possible, create cellphone alerts to remind you to periodically check the lists)
Rituals (doing routine behaviors the same way consistently)
Notes to self

Utilize color coding because one, many people with ADHD are visually oriented. Two, it is another way to build structure: for example, build a system for your files where the color of the folder represents a topic, a course, etc.

Posted in Anxiety, Miscellaneous Articles, Parenting
3 Steps to Establish “Prime Time” with your Children
How does a busy parent balance a loving, supportive parent-child relationship with a packed daily schedule? By establishing a routine of “Prime Time.” Prime Times are those short moments each day where parent and child bond and reinforce their primary relationship of love. They are times to check in, share stories of the day, be quiet together in the heart, and maintain a quality connection despite a busy, hectic lifestyle. Here’s an effective Prime Time program.

1.  Together, parent and child decide on a convenient Prime Time to meet once per day and connect. Even if the length of time is only a few minutes, make a commitment to follow through each day. As a reminder, post the meeting time on a centrally located place like the refrigerator, bulletin board, or a visible wall space. When the scheduled time conflicts with other time demands, make sure you reschedule another time so that continuity is maintained.

2.  Establish a guideline that sincere listening without interrup­tions will take place during any Prime Time conversation. The parent should especially model quality listening from the heart.

3.  During Prime Time, use the following activities or ideas as triggers to build or enhance your heart connection. Over time, you’ll find new ideas that will be appropriate for the circumstances and mood of your child.

   Do a two minute HEART LOCK-IN, sending love and appreciation to each other.
   Each person in turn talks about the highlights of their day–what went well and what was challenging.
   Give each other a long hug.
   Share qualities that you appreciate about each other.
   When either of you is stressed-out or had a hard day, have the other person just listen with compassion, and then mirror back the words and feelings. Sincere listening is caring in action.
   Each of you share five things that you appreciate about your life.
   Read a favorite story together or make up one together.
   Learn the words of an inspiring, short poem that becomes a regular ritual to recite together.
   Post a picture of the two of you together in your regular meeting place as a reminder of the love that you feel for each other.
Posted in Parenting
3 Principles for Disciplining Your Child
DISCIPLINE means teaching children what behavior will help them get along and be successful in the world. It is about changing behavior and developing self-control, not blaming or finding fault with the person who is not behaving.  Remember that prevention is the best form of defense against needing to discipline your child.

TECHNIQUES for disciplining children change as the child grows and matures. You have to experiment to find what works best for your child. Research demonstrates that one thing that will not work is spanking, slapping, kicking or other physical discipline—such behaviors teach children that violence is ok and sets you up for more problems later. A professional therapist can help teach you how to effectively use the following 3 principles to discipline your child in a healthy productive manner.

Suspend Privileges: Match the privilege to the misbehavior whenever possible.
Use “when…then”: For example, when the toys are picked up, then you can turn on the TV.  Children respond better to rewards then punishment.
Apply Logical Consequences: Let the action do the talking by setting clear consequences that you can enforce.
DIFFUSING TENSION and ending misbehavior in situations that are common problem areas requires creative parental involvement. Creative problem solving examples include:

If dawdling in the morning is a problem, grab some stuffed toys for five minutes of play-acting. For example, if your daughter dresses slowly, make a bear offer encouraging words while another spouts doubts she can get ready on time. If you don’t think you have five minutes to spare in the morning, think how much time you spend nagging.
If your child consistently drags his feet about doing his homework, schedule ten minutes of unstructured play beforehand, such as pillow-fighting. Avoid doing anything where you and your child have to concentrate, since you both have been using your brains all day.
For temper tantrums, calmly more close enough to your child while maintaining eye contact and give a hug. This has a striking effect—you’ll be surprised at the result: your child needs to unload feelings, and being close offers that chance. While you’re close you can say you love him, but that you still aren’t going to give in.
Time outs can be used to help a child calm down when they are out of control by isolating the child, and ignoring the tantrums. Time out should be as long as the child is old, after the child becomes quiet. For older children, time out should be as long as it takes them to come up with how they could have handled the situation differently and until they are ready to apologize for their misbehavior.
Always remember to MODEL what you want by showing your child how to do the job.  Use your patience and practice new skills with the child.  If your child’s behavior seems uncontrollable seek the help of a therapist or counselor.  Sometimes the presence of a third party, such as a therapist, can help to identify a solution that everyone can tolerate.

Adapted from Parents Anonymous of Pennsylvania

Posted in Parenting
10 Nutritional Recommendations to Reduce Symptoms of ADHD
The food you eat plays in important role in the management of the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  The following is a list of recommendations you can do to help reduce your ADHD symptoms.

Eat lots of vitamin C by consuming foods rich in vitamin C
Take a multivitamin daily that includes:
vitamin B-12
folic acid
vitamin E
Eat blueberries and/or take grape-seed extract
Drink lots of water—8 glasses for most people
Take omega-3: for a child, 2.5 grams per day; for an adult, 5 grams/day
Eat protein at every meal, especially breakfast
Eat more fruits and vegetables, and less starch and flour-based foods
Avoid junk foods
Try to eat fresh foods, rather than processed
Avoid foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce, those long words that usually end in ite or ate.
Avoid foods that contain trans-fatty acids.
Avoid foods, such as potato chips, that contain “partially hydrogenated” ingredients.
Don’t self-medicate with food—using sugar or junk to elevate your mood.
Not only will the above recommendations help to reduce your symptoms of ADHD, but they contribute to your overall good health.

Source: Delivered from Distraction by Edward Hallowell, M.D. and John Ratey, M.D.


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