Archive for June, 2011

Art Therapy: Using Art as A Tool to Help Your Child

June 9th, 2011

Sarah was an unforgettable girl. She was a tall lanky teenager with as many piercings on her face as freckles. She was a student in an alternative high school where I worked. I can still picture Sarah today in her baggy pants, ripped clothes and colored hair. She was one of those students who wore her anger and sadness like a badge.

Everyone knew Sarah had a rough time. She had even threatened to kill herself a year earlier. The clothes and the personal history made it easy for Sarah to be left alone, and she said that’s what she wanted.

A natural artist and freethinker, Sarah was recommended for art therapy by a concerned teacher. She strolled into our first session, unloaded her books and grabbed some clay. Quietly she molded the clay. For the first month we sat mostly in silence as she formed the clay into angry mask-like faces. I accepted what she gave me unconditionally, knowing there was more to Sarah than angry masks. I waited for weeks until the time was right. I asked Sarah, “What’s behind the mask?…If you took away the angry mask what would there be?” Sarah sat quietly looking at her clay. A long pause, a sigh, her brown eyes rimmed with tears, “ I don’t know”. Our journey together had begun.

Sarah, like many kids I’ve worked with over the years, embraced art. Even with so many let downs and mixed emotions, she was able to let go and risk show who she was through her artistic creations. I witnessed Sarah bloom from lost teen to graduating Senior. Her artwork changed too. From dark pictures and angry masks to bright colored painting she proudly gave to friends and family. She had finally found a way to give of herself and to be accepted.

Years later I got a phone call. Sarah wanted to meet for lunch. That day I walked in to see the butterfly Sarah had become. Her face was glowing. She looked so happy and healthy. Her pink outfit mirrored her wonderful transformation from anger to acceptance.

We ate, laughed, listened, and knew silently that we were part of a journey that had brought us to this place. I felt grateful to have witnessed Sarah’s transformations.

Art Therapists working with children share the hopes of all parents. Our goal is to help children discover their inner beauty and potential. For many people, this journey to self-acceptance requires special support.

I saw Sarah again several years later. She was visiting home briefly and had changed schools. She was going to study counseling. She told me she was going to make a difference in somebody’s life. I nodded and smiled, knowing that she already had.


Don’t Let your Child be a Weiner Online: 7 Tips to Manage your Child’s Online Behaviors

June 8th, 2011

Call me a Pollyanna, but I am truly shocked about the recent news of congressman Anthony Weiner’s alleged indecent pictures posted on Twitter. If an adult who is a position of power and influence can act that way what can you expect of your hormonal tween?

It certainly gives parents an opportunity to review their ‘online media rules’ with their children. If you are a family that does not have rules in place, now may be the perfect time to mention your concerns and establish media rules for your household.

Wondering if you need media guidelines in your home? Look at what’s considered a norm in our society. There are media policies at work and at school and if you do not have media boundaries in place at home your child may explore areas on the internet and act in ways that you’d expect them not to. Children naturally love to test boundaries, and they will likely do so if there are no clear expectations or consequences.

Here are 7 tips to help your child manage their online behaviors:

1.Discuss with your spouse or parenting partner what your values are around using the internet and social media. Decide together what media is appropriate for your child’s cognitive and emotional developmental level. Every child matures at a different rate, so be aware of what’s appropriate for your child based upon their developmental maturation, not age. Together come up with your family media rules so your child doesn’t end up going from one parent to the other to get what they want.

2.Decide if you will place parental controls on your child’s computer using software such as NetNanny or CyberSitter. You can find reviews for top 10 parental controls here parental control reviews. Or you can access Norton Online Family, which offers free support and online controls for families.

3. Limit where your child can use the computer if you are uncertain if they can be trusted online. This may mean that they can only use the computer at the kitchen table or in the family room. Again, depending upon your child’s maturity they may be able to use their computer in their bedroom as they show they are responsible and trustworthy.

4. Write down what your media rules are. If they are able to go on Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter sit down with your child and come up with some rules. Include your expectations about lewd words or images, who they can friend, and expectations around sharing personal information and cyberbullying. Be playful and role play a few of the problems they may encounter and ask them what they might do in that situation, such as a friend posting party pictures, swearing friends or someone writing nasty wall comments. Let them know you are there to support them and are open to helping them solve problems when they come up.

5. Become your child’s followers or friends on whatever social media platform they are using. Tell your child this is part of building trust and let them know your expectations. As they mature you may need less parental support and you may decide to give them more freedom as they show they are trustworthy. Let them know that whatever they post they must feel it would be okay to share with their parents.

6. Use media scandals as an opportunity to discuss with your child how they would handle that situation. What can they learn from Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian’s sex videos or Charlie Sheen’s behavior? Be open to listening to your child’s thoughts before your jump in with your parental advice.
7. Using a computer is not a “right”. Many children feel they are entitled to use the computer as the desire and some will say they are doing homework as they chat with their friends. Using the computer is not a right, and if a child shows that they cannot not be responsible, then pull in your parenting reigns and limit the time on the computer to just homework time and have them do their homework in a place where you can observe their behaviors. Be clear on what the consequences will be if they violate this rule.

You can teach your child to be responsible by creating clear and consistent rules around  online behaviors. As one of the parents I worked with so eloquently said, “When you are responsible then it may be possible”. Use these 7 tips to help your child become clear on what behavior is acceptable online, so they don’t ever become a Weiner!

Need more support to define your online media rules without a huge argument? We can help! Schedule your Complementary Child Support Consultation here>>


Summer Programs for Children- Sarasota, FL, Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch

June 1st, 2011

Resources and Recommendations-

I always get asked the question by so many parents I work with in my art therapy practice, “Do you have any suggestions for summer programs?” So here are some resources for parents for summer for the Sarasota, Bradenton /Lakewood Ranch FL area. As always, if your child needs support to help them manage their behaviors at camp (such as getting along with peers, coping with bullying, listening and following directions, or dealing with frustrations) contact us at (941)504-8498, we are here to help!

Art Center Sarasota’s Creative Kids Summer Camp- weekly sessions
Ages: 6-11 & 12-17 June 13-Aug 19
TEN  fun-filled weeks of art making led by a talented team of professional art educators. Each week students will explore unique themes and techniques ranging from Greek Art, creatures, monsters, fairies and zombies to Anime.  Students will have the opportunity to work with mediums such as mosaics, painting, drawing, felting, collage and sculpture and experiment with a wide range of media. Please join us this summer for one week or ten for a stimulating adventure in creativity.

SUMMER ART experience at Ringling College-

Teen Studios June 20 – July 22, 2011:

Explore your emerging style in just one studio or sign up for an assortment.  Get serious about your creative style.  Build a foundation in basic art concepts.
Teen Studios are open to students who will be entering 7th through 12th grades in Fall 2011.

Social Skills Summer Camp at the Gap School-

Ages: 5-11 June 13 – July 1 and July 11 – 29, 2011

This highly intensive camp helps campers better navigate their social world by offering daily opportunities to practice, modify and monitor their nonverbal communication and verbal interaction skills.

Little Butterflies at Beyond the Spectrum-
Ages 2-6 June 27th – July 15th (closed Monday, July 4th) and  July 18th – August 5th. A summer camp program designed for children ages 2 through 6 years of age diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  A structured daily program including typical peer interaction and summer camp fun.

Drama Kids International-

Ages 5 & up and Teen Workshop. Sarasota camp June 27- July 1 & Lakewood Ranch Camp is from June 27-July 1. Camps are held from 9am-4pm (before and aftercare are available). Teen workshop held Fridays June 10- July 8 from 6pm-8:30pm.

Thinking Center Summer Reading Intensives-

Programs are typically not grade-based but skill-based. So when choosing an approach, keep in mind the reading goals. By training skills, grade levels increase or are maintained depending on goals. Reading 101, Reading 102, and Reading 103 reading interventions.

Florida Studio Theatre Children’s/Teen Workshops-

Ages 7-17 (depending upon the program). Starting in June: Children’s Performing Arts Camp, Intro to Theatre, Min- Magical Theatre, Little Theatre, VIP Camp, Teen Performing Arts Camp, Teen Improvisation,Young Performers Company Write, and much more.

Dance Artistry- Arts/Dance Summer Camp-

Ages 4-18. Dance Summer Program

June 13 – June 17        Dance Camp                Ocean Theme
June 20 – June 24       Dance Camp                  Disney Theme
July 11 – July 15           Dance Camp                  Nature Theme
July 18 – July 22           Dance Camp                  Princess Theme
Aug 8 – Aug 12             Dance Camp                  Circus Theme

Arts A Blaze Art Camp-

Ages 5 – 12 2 sessions daily 9am-12pm & 1pm -4 pm June 20-Aug 12. Snack included.

Mommy and Me Dance Class at Stage Door Studio-

2 year old (Tuesday & Wednesday)

Introductory dance program for 2-yr-olds with caregiver.  Wednesdays 10:30-11am. (Also held Tuesdays 10:30-11am.)
Kids Night Out at Kids Activity Center-

Ages 3-12 years (ONLY on 1st & 3rd Saturdays). 6-10pm. A safe alternative to traditional babysitting. Your child will participate in gymnastics, art, games, and fun all night long! Held the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month.

If you have additional resources to share please send me an email and I’ll post it in the upcoming newsletter.