Archive for August, 2011

3 Tips To Help Your Child Transition Back to School

August 31st, 2011

If you live in Florida then you know what time of year this is, back to school!  Even if you don’t have children or your children are grown, there is a shift that occurs as Fall arrives.  There is a bit of anticipation, a sense of something about to occur, a quickening of pace.  For many of us as fall arrives our schedule fills and we are on the go with little time to slow down and reflect.

No matter what age you are these easy tips will help make the most of your transition into Fall.  So here are some things to think about before your schedule gets too full with Fall busyness:

1.    What do I value?
What is really important to you or your family?  Take a moment and name the one thing that is the foundation of your values. Put this word or statement on a sticky note and post it somewhere important (i.e. desk, mirror, refrigerator).  Whenever you are running about feeling overwhelmed stop and think, what is my value and are my actions and choices reflecting my core value?

2.    Get back on schedule!
In the Summer there is a joyous loosening of our schedules.  Perhaps the bedtimes are later, the family visits more frequent, there is more time to spend enjoying each other’s company.  Of course that does not have to disappear when Fall arrives.  Remember that consistency and schedules give children and families boundaries that make the family function and also provide a sense of order and safety. Start preparing for back to school schedules now so there will be fewer arguments when the alarm clock rings for school.  Even for adults there is something soothing about a schedule. So if you are off schedule plan a few daily rituals (walking the dog in the morning or reading time at bed) to create order in your life.

3.    Give yourself a break!
There is so much running around that we do in our lives.  Give yourself permission to take a break, to decidedly not do something without guilt or remorse.  This may be as little of a break as choosing not to exercise today, or deciding that you want to cancel morning appointments and sleep in, or that you will sit by the pool and read when you should be doing the bills.  Take a break; revel in the fact that you chose it consciously. No need to worry, there will be things to do later, but for right now a nap seems just right.

Try these tips and see how they work for you.  You may find that giving yourself a pause or getting back on schedule helps you to clearly identify what it is you value. When you have a better idea of what is important to you and your family you might choose to spend less time running around during the transition of Fall doing all the things you think you should do, and more time doing what feels right for you.

Need some more support to help your child be successful? Schedule a complimentary Support Consultation by clicking here!


Back to school: How to help your child be successful

August 26th, 2011

Your child is heading back to school and for those of you in the Sarasota, Bradenton, and Lakewood Ranch areas in Florida, your child has just completed their first week back to school. How do you help your child have a great first week so that you set the tone for a successful school year? If your child is worried about heading back to school, or you are concerned that the first morning out the door will lead to fighting and arguments; here are some back to school success tips to help your child have a great first day and week back at school! Click the link below to watch these back to school success tips!


Divorcing or Remarrying? Leave No Rock Unturned for Your Children

August 25th, 2011

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’re probably aware of the high divorce rate in the U.S. for first marriages; it’s approximately 50%.  A less well-known fact is that approximately 60-70% of second marriages end in divorce. Divorce, first or second, affects millions of children in the U.S.  And, the negative effects of divorce on children have been well documented in published works, including The Journal of Marriage and the Family and The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. So, how are we doing with checking on the children during these critical turning points in their lives?

According to Judith S. Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee in What About the Kids? Raising Your Children Before, During, and After Divorce, many parents don’t recognize that divorce is a turning point. “They hope that their relationships with their children won’t change very much after divorce.” And, furthermore, “They’ve probably been told by attorneys or therapists that if they behave with civility toward their ex, make a fair financial plan, and allow each child to have good access to both parents, the stress of the divorce will be short-lived.”

According to Wallerstein and Blakeslee, “that’s not the children’s experience.” And, I would argue that it isn’t the case with a remarriage either. Experts report that it takes approximately seven years for a stepfamily to “successfully blend.” And, some even say it takes 12 years. Either way, such transitions do not occur quickly and require a great deal of time and effort. Chances are greater for success if you don’t just let things happen while you are on autopilot.

In other words, be proactive when it comes to your child’s mental and emotional health during divorce and/or remarriage. I often hear about adults seeking assistance for their children after a problem occurs; e.g., a decline in grades, behavioral issues, depression, etc.  Wallerstein and Blakeslee urge parents to be aware that the kids have an entirely different take on things compared to the parents. And, they point out that the kids’ feelings can last well into adulthood.

A great way to begin being proactive is to seek out resources that deal with divorce and/or remarriage. There are some very helpful and insightful books that have been written, such as The Secrets to Stepfamily Success: Revolutionary Tools to Create a Blended Family of Support and Respect by Gloria Lintermans. She sheds light on common stepfamily myths in areas such as loyalty issues, discipline, incomplete grief, and explains how for children, “the transition from one family structure to another, and another, creates a long period of upheaval and stress.”

More importantly, Lintermans’ book and others can open your eyes to the issues they may be bothering your children whether you know it or not. Once you are aware of all of the potential challenges that divorce and/or remarriage can pose for your children, one of the most important things to do is to help your child connect and communicate. Be proactive!

Why not seek the assistance of a professional therapist who has experience with working with stepfamilies before someone in your family faces problems? Why not join a divorce or stepfamily support group if that is the lifestyle you are embracing? Why not talk to people who have successfully navigated through divorce and remarriage journeys?

Staying focused on your children and anticipating what to expect when you divorce or remarry with children is a healthy thing. You anticipate their needs daily in many ways to ensure they have happy and successful lives by way of check-ups with their doctors and dentists, back-to-school teacher conferences, sports practices, and more. Why not be prepared and help them through the big changes in your life that impact them tremendously as well?

About Paula

Paula Bisacre is publisher of, the go-to resource for remarriage and stepfamily living. She is the founder of Remarriage LLC, a multimedia company that provides information, community, and products that enhance the experience of remarriage and stepfamily living. As a trusted expert and advocate, Paula frequently speaks, writes and consults about stepfamily issues and was the creator of the monthly remarriage column in The Washington Times. She has also authored the book, Journal for Stepmoms.


Need help with your child behaviors? Got back to school questions? What to do when your child acts out in public?

August 24th, 2011

Join me as we talk about all issues with children: sex after kids, getting your kids to behave, cyber-bullying, sexting, online predator worries, teaching your kids respect, single parent struggles, back to school stress tips, etc. If you have kid-related issues, be sure to ask them LIVE on Thursday at 2 eastern when I takeover YourTango Facebook Fan Page

Got questions about children and your relationships? Have your questions answered live by Dr. Laura Dessauer, Thursday, August 25th at


Got An Out of Control Child? These 7 Tips Will Help Your Child

August 22nd, 2011

Are you worried about your child’s behaviors in public, are you tired of hearing negative comments about your child’s behaviors from family, friends, and teachers, does your stomach sink and you feel totally embarrassed when your child or teen starts to act out in public?

It seems rather crazy that restaurants, airlines, and public spaces would restrict children; isn’t that how children practice learning social expectations and rules? As an art therapist in private practice I see many families whose children have gotten out of control with their meltdowns and tantrums. These children act out in public spaces leaving parents feeling helpless, worried, and often walking on eggshells fearful of the next time their child will have an emotional outburst.

Here’s the thing, there may be something going on with your child that warrants additional support. Your child may have anxiety, explosive anger or mood disorder; or it may be something much more simple than that. It may be that your child has not learned ways to manage their behaviors and emotions.

Here are 7 tips to help your child manage their out of control behaviors.

1. You are the parent and your child is looking for you to set the rules and boundaries of what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. As a parent it’s your job to provide feedback to help your child become aware of their behaviors, and to offer your child support to help them connect and modify behaviors. Children learn from your actions and behaviors, so get crystal clear on what’s okay behavior and what is not.

2. Acknowledge their feelings. Often children are acting out because they are upset, bored, annoyed, nervous, mad, sad, excited, hungry, tired (among other feelings, needs, and wants). By identifying your child’s feelings and behaviors your child will become more aware of their own feeling, behaviors, and wants. For example a child who is clinging to you and interrupting you as you speak you can acknowledge their behaviors and feelings, “ I can tell you want my attention now, and what you have to say is very important, when I am done speaking then I can listen to what you have to say”.

3. Let your child know when they are acting inappropriately. When you notice the negative behaviors it’s time step in and let your child know what is expected. Be clear, direct, and assertive without becoming angry and aggressive. For example, “The sofa is not for jumping, please stop”.

4. Allow your child to self-correct. If it is not a safety issue give your child an opportunity to hear what you have requested. You may need to step closer, look into their eyes, put a hand on their shoulder, or meet them at eye level and state what it is that you want them to do, then give them a few seconds to process what is being requested.

5. If your child continues to act and disregard your request, it is time to step into your parenting authority. In a calm manner let your child know what the consequences of their behaviors will be if they do not stop. Do this is as calmly as possible. Recent studies in brain-based research suggest we mirror the emotional responses of those we are connecting with. Unconsciously (and at times consciously) children want you to be as upset as they are. By staying calm and in your parenting authority you unplug power struggles and help your child regulate their feelings and behaviors. By getting upset you fuel their emotional outbursts further.

6. Consequences need to be immediate and meaningful, and you need to follow-though. Here’s the tricky part for most parents, they may become so upset at their child’s behaviors that they make a threat that is unrealistic, like taking away the TV for a month. Then when parents are calm they realize it may be difficult to monitor the consequence, and they decide to lessen the consequences or never follow-through. Children are very aware and learn by your behaviors. When you do not follow-through on consequences they realize that your consequences are not to be taken seriously, and they disregard your requests.

7. If your child needs more support in helping them to change their behaviors then you can help by developing a positive rewards system for younger children and a behavior contract for tweens and teens. I have witnessed children make dramatic transformations in their behaviors with these strategies, and I‘ve seen these strategies flop. What makes these behavior agreements work is when parents and children both are invested and the goals are realistic and achievable.

I recommend these 7 tips to the families I work with and support them to create their own individualized strategies to best support their child to get back in control of their behaviors. If you are concerned about your child’s behaviors try these strategies and if your child continues to struggle, seek out support.

If you would like more tools and strategies to help your child join me, Dr. Laura Dessauer (the Creativity Queen), on the YourTango Facebook Fan Page Thursday, Aug 25th at 2:00pm EST. I’ll be taking over the page and answering your questions to best help your child. We’ll be talking about heading back to school, bad behaviors, tantrums, shutdowns and meltdowns, what to do if you have a child when needs extra support and lots more. I’m looking forward to sharing valuable insider tools that will help your child and family positively communicate and connect!


Going to a new school? These creative tips can help your child

August 17th, 2011

Do you have a child going to a new school? Are you worried about your child starting at a new school and you want to provide them some additional support? Here are some creative ideas to help your child be successful at their new school.

Go to the school with your child and visit the classroom and meet the teacher prior to school starting. Let your child get acquainted with the building and meet the principal, office staff, and nurse. Your child is likely to feel more comfortable asking for help is her/she has met the staff prior to the start of school.

If your child is taking the bus or is doing parent pick-up find out the location and visit the site where they will be dropped off and picked up. Allow your child some time to explore the school grounds. Pack a lunch and visit the playground and allow some time to play and get acclimated. You can even bring a camera to take pictures of their new classroom, teacher, staff and playground.

After the visit you can ask your child what was the best part of the visit and what they may be worried about. Make sure you listen without trying to problem solve. At home ask your child to make some pictures about their favorite things at their new school and post the images in a place where your child can see it on a daily basis. You can also print out the pictures your child took and create a scrapbook or album with images of their new school. The day before school starts pick out a new outfit to wear and talk about what they are looking forward to and revisit the images they made and the pictures they took.

If you child is worried or anxious about meeting new people or going new places they may need additional support. We teach children creative ways to manage their worries so they can be successful and confident. Want to learn more? Click here to schedule your complimentary child support consultation.


Teaching Responsibility: Help your child make & keep goals for the school year

August 15th, 2011

Got a child heading back to school and you want to help your child become responsible and accountable for the school year? Help your child create goals for the school year and provide your child with creative tools to be successful.

Here are some creative ways to help your child articulate and track their academic goals:

Ask your child to create an image (or use magazine collage) and ask them to make artwork representing their school goals. You can make it easier to define by taking a circle and filling in different sections for different goals they are striving to achieve.

For example inside of a circle they would section off each piece of the pie and create images and words inside of that section that represent their specific goals. Areas could include academics (a slice of the pie for each subject) friendships, social activities, and sports.

Another way to keep track of goals would involve creating an altered book by recycling an old book and creating a scrapbook of images and words representing the different goals your child is working towards. You can use an old out of print textbook, vintage yearbook, old children’s book, or visit a used bookstore. Cover the pages with paint and then use magazine collage to decorate the pages. Visit the craft store for additional scrapbook embellishments to personalize your child’s goal book.

The benefits of creating a personalized image or book of your child’s goals allows your child to create what a successful academic year would look like for them, holds them accountable for what they are creating (rather than you nagging them), and allows them an opportunity to reflect back at the end of the year on what they accomplished, and what they could improve upon. Plus it’s really fun to have a book or image of the year they created.

Need some more support to help your child be successful? Schedule a complimentary Child Support Consultation by clicking here!


Want to Help Your Child get a Good Night’s Sleep? Here’s What I Learned From Molly’s Science Fair Project

August 11th, 2011

Guest Article by Candace Vorhaus

Our very cute yorkiepoo, Ollie, has no problem sleeping and for the rest of our four-person, two teenager family, sleep comes at a premium.  As a Feng Shui consultant, interior designer and spiritual coach, I know the importance of deep and restful sleep.  Whether in my home or traveling, my nightly intention is ending the day in a comfortable bed, feeling completely relaxed, free from my worries and cares, and for at least seven to eight hours, peacefully drifting into a place of deep and restorative sleep.  My goal is waking in the morning visualizing every DNA strand, cell, and fiber of my body and soul are rested, restored, renewed, rejuvenated, and remade for another day of work, fun, and family.

We also value sleep as a precious commodity in our home.  Conversations often revolve around getting more sleep, bed times, and how to improve the quality of our sleep.  So, I shouldn’t have been surprised (although I was) when my thirteen-year-old daughter, Molly, chose me as her sleep-guinea pig for her seventh-grade science fair project, “How Light Affects Your Brain’s Sleep Patterns?”

Molly’s results interested me.  The first test night I read for a half hour in soft lighting before turning off the light and my sleep was a typical light sleep that provided me with enough rest to function, although I still awoke tired.

The second test night I worked on my computer right up until I got into bed and I slept terribly, getting barely four hours sleep.  The third and last test night, Molly made me go to bed a half hour earlier than I normally do.  We turned off the lights and lay in the dark chatting girl talk, followed by quiet time.   I was out within 15 minutes, and slept better than I had in recent memory, arising feeling refreshed, positive and excited to start my day.

Molly’s conclusion, and I agree, are that both the computer’s stimulation and Electromagnetic Fields, or EMFs, negatively affected my sleep, and that quiet, low-light, and loving connections improved my sleep.  To learn more, visit the National Sleep Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping American’s get a better night’s sleep,

In addition to getting cozy with Molly, Feng Shui is my solution for a good night’s sleep.

Feng Shui, modernized for the way we live in the Western world, is the 4000 year old science and transcendental art of aligning your goals, intentions and desires with the energies of your immediate environment, including your home, business, landscape and community.  What’s happening in your environment is connected to what’s happening with your relationships, money situation, career, health, the people you attract into your life, and your sleep patterns.  The patterns in your home and office mirror the patterns in your life.  Change the patterns, change your life and sleep better.

There are many Feng Shui “cures” or remedies for sleep.  Feng Shui is both intuitive and intentional.  So, if you really want a good night’s sleep, take off your shoes and get into your bed and look around.  What do you see?

A major problem I often see with clients having trouble sleeping is clutter both under and around their bed.  To sleep peacefully, the energy needs to flow smoothly around you.  If there is clutter or stored items under your bed, then the flow of energy is blocked.   This can lead to feelings of being stuck or stagnant.

Books or items around your bed that remind you of work will also affect your sleep.  To help relax, remove these items from the bedroom before going to sleep.  Instead of that pile of books, bills, and blackberry, add a vase of fresh flowers or healthy green plant to enhance your bedroom.  Also try placing a pleasing, restful picture directly across from the bed.

In our home, TVs and computers are not permitted in the bedroom, and I suggest to my clients (including my blackberry addicted husband, Robbie) moving the clock radio, cell phone and blackberry at least eight feet away from where you sleep.   Many clients like to fall asleep to the TV, but this can be disruptive to your own life force, causing a poor quality sleep.  I also recommend finishing all meals at least two hours before bedtime and limiting alcohol consumption, which also disrupts sleep patterns.

Last step.  Just prior to sleep, I advise my clients to practice some form of prayer or meditation.   You can visualize you’re in a peaceful place like a beach in Hawaii, on your favorite mountaintop, or in a beautiful garden.  You can also visualize your body filled with light and that healing energy is circulating throughout every cell in your body, calming and bringing each cell and system into alignment.

Success Summary:

  • When you can, reduce the use of all EMFs and visual stimulation, including TV and computers, at least one half hour before bed.
  • Clear the clutter from under and around your bed that can block restful energy and make you feel stuck or stagnant.
  • Try to get to bed a half-hour early at least once a week.
  • Make a loving, kind, or compassionate connection just prior to sleep.
  • Practice a mind-calming meditation or prayer just prior to sleep.
  • Have pleasing and uplifting art or restful nature scenes in your bedroom.

What have you found that improves the quality of your sleep?

About Candace:

Candace believes focusing on your personal space is the missing link to lifelong fulfillment and happiness.  In her work with clients, Candace emphasizes C3D Feng Shui: Color, Clutter, Ch’i (life force), and Design.  A classically trained interior designer with over 20 years experience, Candace is the recognized leading Feng Shui consultant in the world-famous Hamptons, also advising clients worldwide.  Candace is also a well known heart-centered spiritual coach, and an original member of the International Association of Women in Business Coaching. Candace lives in Sag Harbor, New York, with her husband, Robbie, two children, and very cute dog, Ollie.  Click here to receive your complimentary download of a map to the spirit of your space, a Feng Shui Ba Gua:


Online Predators, Cyberbullying, and Sexting: Creative Strategies to Keep Your Child Safe Online.

August 5th, 2011

Are your worried about your child’s exposure to violence and age inappropriate media? Are you concerned that they may be exposed to images and information they are not ready to handle? Are you concerned about your child being cyberbullied or joining others and using technology to bully their peers? Are you scared that an online predator may be interacting with your child? You are not alone.

  • Three out of four children (77 %) ages three to seventeen used the Internet at home. -Child Trends Data Bank
  • Thirty-four percent (34%) had an unwanted exposure to sexual material — pictures of naked people or people having sex.- Crimes Against Children Research Center
  • 75% of children are willing to share personal information online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services.- eMarketer
  • One in seven youth online (10 to 17-years-old) received a sexual solicitation or approach over the Internet. -National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
  • Only approximately 27% of children who encountered a sexual approach or solicitation told a parent or adult. – Crimes Against Children Research Center
  • More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online.-i Safe Foundation
  • Over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyberbullying occurs. -i Safe Foundation

Invite Dr. Laura Dessauer to share with your agency, organization, or school her dynamic presentation:

Online Predators, Cyberbullying, and Sexting: Toto We’re Not in Kansas Anymore! 5 Creative Strategies to Keep Your Child Safe Online.

Do you think your child is too young to be exposed to online violent and sexually explicit material? Statistics suggest your child may be exposed to negative influences of online media at an early age!
This presentation will cover specific creative strategies you can implement in your home to improve your child’s online safety.

To book Laura to speak contact or call (941)540-8498.

Can’t book Laura to speak, but you want some online strategies to help your child? Click here to read more:

“All Hail the Queen!” What other organizations are saying about speaking events with Dr. Laura Dessauer

“Thank YOU so much for joining us and for sharing your knowledge and energy with us. As I was collecting papers at the end, several  women told me they found you to be a great speaker, they wanted more, and  they’d love to have you back! As I mentioned, you’d come highly recommended and the praise was certainly warranted! Our members left with great tools – not just for the children, but for the parents as well! The quality world exercise really opened my eyes to my children’s perspective and that is a valuable gift you’ve given to my family. Thank you!!” —Chantal Wilford, Leader, Sarasota Chapter of the Holistic Moms Network

“Great workshop! Laura is definitely a wonderful resource for Forty Carrots to use. The message we can give to our parents is that through art, we can connect with our children in many ways. Parents can model how art can be used as a self-soothing tool. It is also another way to “play” with children, which is a message we send already. Instead of thinking about art itself, Laura focuses on how to use the ‘process’ of art to help connect families.”— Parenting Educators at Forty Carrots Family Center

“I just wanted to say all of the moms loved your presentation, “7 creative ways to get control of your kids so they learn how to positively manage their behaviors and feelings, and you stay sane!”. It was very helpful and informative. We really appreciate you sharing the creative parenting tips and tools. I can’t wait to start practicing them with my family. You were truly awesome.” —Heather Tyler, MOMS Club of Manatee

“As you can see from the feedback below on your two conference sessions, your workshops were very well received! In addition, one of the directors at the conference made a special point of telling me how much she enjoyed your class.” -Mary Wolf, M.Ed. Director of Quality, Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County

About Dr. Laura Dessauer:

Laura Dessauer, Ed.D, ATR-BC is board certified art therapist with a doctorate degree in counseling psychology working with families for 23 + years in over 21 school districts. She is the author of the forthcoming book, I’m Not Crazy I’m A Mom: How to Keep your Sanity While Creatively Raising Confident, Compassionate, Responsible Children. Laura’s work has been included in Parent’s Magazine, eHow Parenting, YourTango, FoxNews, PBS This Emotional Life, Working Mother, Head Drama, Gal Drama, and she blogs for Psychology Today. Laura is recognized as an international presenter, esteemed clinician, author, and her business, the Creativity Queen, LLC, was the winner of the 2007 Small Business of the Year Award (SCORE).

To book Laura to speak contact or call (941)540-8498.


Art in therapy: Why children use art naturally in child therapy

August 1st, 2011

Why is art therapy and the creative process something that children naturally want to engage in? What’s the reason we create, and why do we all have an urge to express ourselves?

You may not believe you are creative, but if you look at your daily activities, there are creative ways you express yourself and you may not even be aware. These creative activities may involve the love of making a delicious meal from scratch, tending to a garden, decorating your home, designing spreadsheets to keep track of your activities, creating innovative systems, planning a getaway excursion, or enjoying the delight of singing or dancing (among other creative pursuits).

The author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a pioneer in positive psychology and author of the book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention writes about creative process called “flow”. Flow occurs when we are engaged in a creative activity where we engage in the process of performing a task, immersed in the feeling of focus and full engagement (often leading to sense of losing track of time). He explored what makes life worth living and how when we engage our creativity we achieve a sense of satisfaction and pleasure.

Cathy Malchiodi, art therapy pioneer examines the question in  Psychology Today ,  exploring what is art for, and why do we engage in the creative process across the globe and throughout the ages.

Both authors note the inherent need for creativity as a means of connection, pleasure, engagement, transcendence, and self-expression. Naturally, children gravitate to creative activities for play, processing ideas, developing mastery, pure pleasure and delight of exploration and expression. So it makes sense when a child is in therapy and they are naturally drawn to the art materials, toys, and creative activities where they can express themselves. Therapy can be a daunting experience, regardless of your age, and for children coming to therapy art provides a way to easily engage the child, and this expands across economic strata and cultural differences. As adults we can learn much from children’s  natural expression of their creativity and easy engagement in the process of “flow”.

Want to connect with your creative flow? Try a new class, take a dance class or exercise class, join the swim group, explore a watercolor class, gardening class, writing class, photography class, or cooking class. Whatever you enjoy spend an afternoon immersed in exploring, dive into the creative process further and then journal about what you discovered about yourself and the process.