Archive for October, 2011

Make Halloween Less Stressful for Children

October 31st, 2011

Halloween can be a very difficult (and scary) time for children who experience anxiety, who have been exposed to trauma, for those who have a difficult time with self-regulation, children with sensory issues, or children who are impulsive; not to mention it can be very difficult for any child who has too much sugar!

Here are some ways to help make Halloween a successful one:

1. Set the schedule- Let children know where they are going and what they will be doing there, how long they will be there, and who will be there. Children who have issues with anxiety or those who have a hard time transitioning will benefit from a schedule to help them become aware of what will happen.

2. Listen to the underlying needs of your child- Halloween, unfamiliar or scary circumstances may trigger fear and anxiety in your child (regardless of their age). Listen to the message your child may be trying to convey if they become uncomfortable. Use it as an opportunity to help them find words to identify and validate their feelings. Even older children may be triggered by something scary, try to understand what they are feeling (even if they aren’t able to express it).

3. Act respectfully- If your older child becomes scared and worried, don’t demean them with “baby” comments or humiliate or shame them. Let  them know  it’s not to do something if they are uncomfortable, before you start the activity (this is a great skill to teach children, so they can practice saying ‘no thank you’ in other difficult situations).

4. Have some safety rules- Be clear on what’s expected, such as everyone will walk together, or we must hold a flash light when walking, and relay what will happen if they don’t listen.

5. Be clear on what will happen with the candy- Some children to know the limits on how may pieces of candy they can have and when, otherwise the whole bag could be eaten. Be clear on the rules ahead of time to prevent sugar-shock meltdowns.

6. Be okay with things not going as you expected- You get to the front of the “haunted house” line and your child has to go to the bathroom, your child is at a doorstep and starts to cry when the neighbor opens the door, you spent days sewing the costume and it feels “itchy and hot” and your child refuses to wear it. These can all be triggers that causes a child to feel and express anxiety and fear. Let go of the belief that they must do things, and understand it’s much more important to help you child learn how to positively communicate (even when it’s not at all what you expected).

Halloween can be a fun holiday and for those children who have a difficult time with fear, transition, and impulsivity, it is also a great teaching opportunity too! If you child needs more support, we can help.


7 Tips to Make Life Less Fearful

October 27th, 2011

FEAR- its a big topic these days. I’m seeing so many children, teens, and adults impacted by fear. Whether it is fear from a weak economy, fear from not doing things good enough, fear of embarrassment, or fear of spooky things in the closet, fear impacts everyone. With Halloween right around the corner you may want to use this as an opportunity to explore your (and your children’s) fears.

All the Halloween decorations are a great opportunities to talk about things that are scary. Create open opportunities to explore what things you or your children are afraid of. By gently asking what kind of things your child is scared of you may uncover some areas you can grow more. The 7 creative tips below will help you create emotional safety as you explore your (and your children’s) fears.


Fear has rippled through the economy and impacted daily choices. How has it impacted the average household and what are some creative ways to reduce stress for the whole family?

As much as you would like to believe that adult worries do not impact your whole family, it’s just not true. Children are tuned into their parents moods and actions. This occurs from the attachment bonds as babies and continues throughout the parent child relationship. When there is uncertainty in the household it impacts the whole family and creates a sense of feeling psychologically unsafe. You can use some of these tips to help create a feeling of safety and consistency even during fearful times.

1. Keep a schedule:
I can’t stress this one enough. I know that life is filled with unexpected events that can change a schedule at any moment: however creating a schedule and doing your best to maintain it provides consistency and safety.

2. Follow through with meaningful rituals:
When families face crisis there is a tendency to isolate from others and most rituals and celebrations are diminished. It is important to honor celebrations, even at times when things are difficult. The celebration does not need to be “fake” or pretending things are fine if they are not. Instead find a way to honor the person or situation in a respectful and loving way.

3. Stay connected:
Fear, loss, and feeling misunderstood often leads to withdrawal from others and may lead to depression. Stay open and connected to others even in time of great difficulty. This is a powerful opportunity to allow others to support you and will deepen the relationship.

4. Do not impose adult problems on your children:
You child does not need to know the specifics about the stress you may be encountering. It is not helpful for you to share with your child your financial worries or job worries. You do not need to share specific details with your children. For instance if they ask for something you cannot afford you can answer with,”We are choosing not to buy that right now”, rather than, “We can’t afford that, you know things are really hard right now and we do not have extra money for you to get whatever you want”.

5. Be open without being fearful:
You can model open communication with your family without giving a message of fear. If you are talking about the state of the economy or about someone who lost their house or job you can clarify how your family is safe. For example, “That happened, but we have a savings account, a good job, our home, and each other”.

6. Listen and normalize:
Sometimes listening is enough, without trying to problem solve. You can normalize feelings by letting your child know that adults have feelings like worry, anxiety, sadness, anger too. Talk about how it is normal to have these feelings and different ways they can express these feelings, such as journal writing, talking to a friend, petting the dog, going for a walk, etc.

7. Do something:
Cognitive behavior therapy suggests that doing something different or thinking something different will influence how you feel. If you want to reduce the worries and fear it’s time to take action. Turn off the bleak news and do something pleasurable. Have an art night scheduled where everybody in the family makes something together. This is a great way to build relationships, have fun, while doing something emotionally positive and teaching valuable self-soothing skills.

If you live the Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton area child art therapy can help your child develop new coping strategies to overcome their fear and worries . To learn more sign-up for your complimentary child support consultation here.

If you don’t live in the area, don’t worry. I created parenting resources to help children and teens you can immediately download and implement to help your child. You can lean more here .


Sexual Abuse and Trauma Treatment for Children

October 18th, 2011

Children respond to sexual abuse in their own way and each person processes their experiences individually. Depending upon the relationship with the perpetrator a child may feel shame, self-blame, and guilt. They may experience dissociation, whereby they become disconnected emotionally as a way to cope with the sexual trauma.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) responses include triggers of smells, tasted, textures, places or other sensory or physical experiences that may cause the child to re-experience the trauma. A child may become regressive in their behaviors and take on younger developmental behaviors such as sleeping with the lights on. Their endocrine system, which regulates the body, may be taxed to to continual stress and hypo-arousal. Children may developed physical illnesses, such as ulcers, in response to sexual abuse.

As they mature they may struggle with wanting to feel loved and how to be receptive to affection and expressing their sexuality. They maybe overtly sexual in an attempt to assert control and power or to feel validated and loved, or they may withdraw from expressing their sexuality and may feel threatened or vulnerable in close relationships.

They may seek out ways to feel in control of their feelings or body, such as using eating restrictions or self-injurious behaviors (cutting/ substance use) as a way to manage their feelings. They may also sublimate their feelings and become over ambitious in sports or in school and later in life use work as a means of control and power (and perhaps as a means of  avoiding feelings).

If your child has experienced trauma art therapy can help. Click here to schedule a child support consultation.


Homework problems & struggles: Homework success tips

October 14th, 2011

Homework struggles?

Do you have a child who struggles with homework? Does your child have a difficult time sitting down to do their homework or organizing or remembering their assignments? You may find yourself spending lots of time trying to get them to finally attend to their homework without a daily battle, meltdown, or interruption. What’s a parent to do?

Sometimes homework struggles signify there is something more going on with your child. They may have processing or learning issues and they may become anxious or frustrated. They may have impulsivity or attention issues that make it difficult to concentrate. They may have executive functioning impairments, that may it difficult to organize, remember, or sequence information.

Every child is different, and they respond differently to the struggle they are encountering. Some children may shutdown or avoid, they may make up a bunch of excuses to delay doing homework, they may lie because they are fearful of how you may respond. They may dillydally or easily get distracted, or ask you to get them things so they can avoid doing the work. Or they may just plain forget, no matter how may times they have been told what they need to do and by when.

Here are the Creativity Queen’s recommendations to help reduce homework hassles and headaches:

1. Know your child. If you notice that your child is acting differently, struggling with academics, processing and retaining information, or organizational issues ask a professional for support. The issue may be that your child is not being disrespectful or lazy, but there is something wrong and there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. Intervention and support can help your child create academic success.

2. Set your child up for success by helping them be organized. This starts with creating systems to help your child. Start with your child’s backpack. Get colored folders to match each subject and have a place for completed homework and homework that needs to be done. Make sure your child has a calendar with all the assignments written down, and look at the calender nightly to help them breakdown larger projects into smaller action steps and add the action steps to the calendar.

3. Define where and when homework is done. Create a specific time and place each day when and where your child does their homework. Your child will know what to expect and it will reduce some of the power struggles over homework. The more responsible your child is, the less direct supervision is necessary and the more flexible you can be with time and location. Let your child know what they can do after their homework is completed, such as spend time on the computer or watch television.

4. Have a clear outline of how homework time is spent and what is expected. Some children will fly through homework so they can play video games. Or some children will be on the computer surfing the net when they say they are doing their homework. Be clear on what needs to be accomplished during that time. Some children with processing or organizational issues may need you to break it down for them, such as what subject they work on first, how many pages they need to read, and what homework they need to complete. You can write it down together and have check boxes your child checks off when each task is completed. Let your child know you will review work together before they are “done”.

4. Stay in connection with the school. If your child struggles to remember assignments or projects due and your child’s school has an online calendar of assignments print that out and use it to see if your child’s assignments match. Older children can print this for you. If your child has academic issues contact the school monthly to check on how your child is doing in school. Ask the teacher for ideas on how to best support your child.

5. Explore your options. Does your child need more support with academics at school? Consult with a professional. Your child may need to be evaluated to determine if they need an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) with specific recommendations and supports that the school provides.

6. Get creative. Your child needs to find some positive ways to express their feelings around homework and their academic struggles. Art therapy is a helpful modality to help children express their feelings so they spend less time struggling and resisting homework. They can use their creativity to develop goals for the school year or create images, such as cartoons or artwork of what annoys and frustrated them, and then create solutions.

Here’s gentle reminder: please do not punish, demean, yell at, threaten children who have organizational, impulsivity, processing or learning issues. So many of these children feel like there is “something wrong” or they are “bad”. They are fearful of being picked on or being seen as “stupid” and may use negative behaviors, manipulate, lie or avoid, so they are not seen as “dumb”.  Children fear being labeled with these words and often would rather get in trouble with negative behaviors, than to be called names by their peers. Children can learn new strategies to change their behaviors and they can find positive ways to succeed at school when properly identified and supported.

If you have a child with academic issues then child therapy can help. Child therapists can rule out if the issues your child is encountering is behavioral and help your child and your family create systems to help your child with homework success. If you live the Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton area child art therapy can help your child develop system and new coping strategies to create academic success. To learn more sign-up for your complimentary child support consultation here.


Sarasota Therapy Group for Children: Art Therapy Group Now Forming

October 4th, 2011

Child Therapy Group for Children in the Bradenton, Sarasota, Venice, Lakewood Ranch area

Do you have a child between the ages of 9-13 who struggles with school, friendships, or siblings?

Do they easily become frustrated, worried, or angered?

Are you looking for a group to help your child learn new positive behaviors?

ART THERAPY GROUP is Now Forming!

Using Art To:
★ build confidence
★ learn positive ways to communicate
★ develop friendship skills
★ manage frustration & worries

Using art and creative problem solving children learn coping and communication skills  to help them positively express their feelings, make positive choices, connect with peers, develop their social skills, and increase self-esteem.
Ages 9-13
Tuesdays 4:00-5:00 pm
October 25th- November 29th

Call Dr. Laura Dessauer (941) 504-8498 for more information and to register!

Therapy groups for children in the Bradenton, Sarasota, Venice, Lakewood Ranch area.

Space is Limited Call to Register Today or Email laura@thecreativityqueen.com with your child’s name, age, what support your child needs,  your phone number and email and the best time and way to reach you.


Anxious Child? Here’s a Creative Solution

October 4th, 2011

Did you know that children’s mental health statistics suggest as many as 1 in 10 young people may have an anxiety disorder?

Did you know that 8 percent of children between the ages of 13-18 have an anxiety disorder?  The National Institute of Mental Health notes that symptoms commonly emerge around age 6. However, of the children who experience symptoms of anxiety, only 18 percent received mental health care.  And if you are a parent who is anxious, studies suggest that children or adolescents are more likely to have an anxiety disorder if their parents have anxiety disorders (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services).

Stress, worries, anxiety, fear- it’s all part of life. Yet, if we are not given the opportunity to express our fears and realize that it’s okay to feel scared (worried, etc) and learn tools to manage these feelings we may develop an anxious disposition. Part of it may be biological, just the way we are hardwired. However, it is believed that genetics only shapes us by 50%, the remaining 50% is environment, situations, people, and perceptions. So we have control over half of our worries and can learn the tools to manage these feelings. The interesting thing about anxiety is that it is often overlooked, yet it has lasting impacts. If a child is anxious they often internalize their feelings and they do not get the attention that a child who is acting out gets. However, this internalization may lead to feeling of inadequacy, self-criticism, and may trigger addictive and self-harming behavior.

The National Institute of Mental Health noted that, “studies on treating childhood anxiety disorders found that high-quality cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), given with or without medication, can effectively treat anxiety disorders in children.  One small study even found that a behavioral therapy designed to treat social phobia in children was more effective than an antidepressant medication.” Essentially, if your child suffers from anxiety, they can be helped in therapy, and they can learn strategies to reduce their anxiety.

Okay- so what’s a parent to do? Here’s a creative solution. Ask your child to create an image of what is bothering them. So if there is a certain situation (like homework or going back to school) or person (like a classmate) that triggers their anxiety and worries ask them to make a picture of it. Allow them to create without censorship or judgment. Ask them if they would like share what they created (“no” is an acceptable answer). Here’s the important part, listen to what they say without offering your perspective. Instead be empathetic and validate their feelings. After listening without offering advice ask your child questions about what the person in the drawing could do or think differently so they feel more in control and less worried. Allow your child to be creative in their responses.

Allowing flexible creative divergent thinking helpings your child re-pattern their brain neural pathways helping your child think in terms of what’s possible. There are other specific cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies we will be teaching in our art therapy group to help your child reduce the physiological impacts of anxiety and stress. Even if your child has normal worries about homework and friends this fun and creative group will give your child some cognitive and behavioral tools to tackle worries when they arise!

If you have a child between the ages of 9-13 in need of more support we are offering a children’s therapy group in Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, or Venice area . We’ll be offering an art therapy  group and teaching some very cool art therapy strategies to help your child feel more confident and happier. You can learn more about the group by sending an email with your child’s name, age, what support your child needs, your phone number and email (and the best time and way to reach you) to laura@thecreativityqueen.com We’ll get back to you with the group details and answer any questions you may have.

If you don’t live in the area, don’t worry. I created parenting resources to help children and teens you can immediately download and implement to help your child. You can lean more here .


Setting Up Children for Success

October 3rd, 2011
“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”
~Sydney J. Harris

Join Candace Vorhaus and Dr. Laura Dessauer

for a 60 Minute Tele-Seminar
– If you have a phone, you’re there! –
(Recording will be made available for download)

Wednesday October 19th, 2011
8pm ET/ 5pm PT
Fee: $47
Help Your Child be Successful Using the Unique Principles of Feng Shui & Art Therapy
In this 60 minute tele-seminar, Candace will share her C3D Feng Shui solutions to an environment that supports children to maximize their learning experience, increase self confidence, and get along better with friends and relatives.  Did you know that the improper placement of a desk can cause children to go unnoticed, feel out of control, and cause an inability to see problems coming?  Did you know that a bed in a poor position can cause anxiety, mood swings, headaches and insomnia?  Did you know that a a door to a bedroom that is misaligned can create family conflict?

In the C3D Feng Shui portion of this tele-seminar, Candace will share:

  • The best desk placement to increase IQ
  • The most important bed placement to give children confidence
  • A method for children to feel safe in their beds
  • How to handle electro magnetic fields that can cause irritability, insomnia and increase stress
  • An easy way to correcting beams, slants and poor door placements to avoid emotional instability and physical disorders
  • The design details that can create a bully with simple environmental solutions
  • A color palette to support children’s success and happiness

Click Here to Register

Dr. Laura Dessauer, board certified art therapist, will teach Creative Parenting strategies from the Head and Heart System to help your child creatively manage their emotions and behaviors.  She’ll share with you her art therapy toolbox to help your child shift their behaviors, change communication patterns, and eliminate power struggles, meltdowns, and shutdowns to help your child feel happier.

With Dr. Laura Dessauer you’ll learn:

  • Creative strategies to help your child manage their behaviors and feelings.
  • How to help your child shift behaviors and finally get your child to listen to you.
  • What you may be doing (or not doing) that is negatively impacting your child and what you can do instead.
  • Signs and signals that your child may need additional support and what to look for in a therapist or doctor to ensure your child is getting the best help.

Dr. Laura Dessauer’s mission is to teach children, parents, and professionals creative ways to connect and communicate with respect and compassion, so children feel happier and more confident. As the founder of the Creativity Queen, LLC, Laura’s a Board Certified Art Therapist with a doctorate degree in counseling psychology offering individual and family art therapy sessions and professional trainings. Laura has worked with families for 23 + years in over 21 school districts and she has been featured in Parent’s Magazine, eHow Parenting, YourTango, FoxNews, PBS This Emotional Life, Working Mother, Head Drama, Gal Drama, and 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).

Visit www.thecreativityqueen.com to receive your free audio mini-course Secrets Your Kids Really Don’t Want You to Know: A Child Art Therapist Tells All (*except for the confidential stuff)

Click Here to Register

The process is easy:

After you register, you will be sent a conference call telephone number you can dial into and listen from wherever you are.  After the call, you will be sent an audio file from YouSendIt.com within 24 hours.

Whether you are on the call live or prefer to listen at another time, a recording of the call will be made available to each participant to download to a computer or iPod.

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. For further information, contact Candace at: www.candacevorhaus.com