Archive for the ‘Anxiety’ Category

Master Mindful Moments with These Creative Tips

April 16th, 2013

Mindfulness is a hot topic these days. It seems like there’s so much literature popping up on the benefits of focusing on the present moment, right here and right now. Reported benefits include awareness of your body, focus and attention, emotion regulation, and increased sense of self (Perspectives on Psychological Science).

Kids are naturally mindful, and left to their own desires they could easily lose hours in mindful play and curious explorations. We can tap into this natural creative state to help children who become easily dysreguated learn how to be in the present moment, all without a yoga mat or “Om”.

Master Mindful Moments with These Creative Tips:
Be aware of the sensations your body is experiencing by speeding up and slowing your engine down. Help your child to become aware of their breath and them encourage them to slow it down.

Blow bubbles and see who can make the biggest bubble with slow breath. See who can make the most bubbles with fast breath. Slow down and make bubbles with your hands.

Play red light/ green light and teach kids to be aware of their bodies, inside and out when they move and stop.

Mimic a fast animal, like a rabbit, then slow down like a turtle.

Show off your dance moves: play music that gets your engine revved, and then play music that slows your engine down.

Decorate your instruments. Create rattles and drums out of household object, paper plates, or various containers; decorate with ribbons, feathers, markers or glitter.

Color together with crayons quickly and make a scribble drawing, then slow down and make slow looping swirls.

Color a page with chalk pastels quickly, then slow down and smear the pastels into he paper with your fingers.

Slowly mix paint colors and see what you create. Paint your hands and make handprints.

Smell scented markers. Close your eyes and play guess the scents with different smells.

Open a new container of Play-doh. Smell and squish it.

Draw a picture with your non-dominant hand.

Paint or draw to classical music, speed up or slow down, depending upon the song.

Make a self-portrait looking at yourself in the mirror.

Paint with right hand, then switch to your left hand, and alternate hands while painting.

Create a squiggle and then ask your child to make a drawing from the lines you drew.

Make a sensory quilt art. Use furry fabrics, feathers, rough textures such as sand paper and adhere to contact paper (or use glue) to create squares of mixed textiles.

Make moon sand: 6 cups of play sand, 3 cups of cornstarch, 1 1/2 cups of cold water. Mix the water and cornstarch together and gradually mix in the sand, one cup at a time. Store in airtight container. (use 2-3 tablespoons of water to revive it).

Eat juice flavored ice cubes. Snack on a hot ball candy or jolly rancher. Try to make bubbles with hubba bubba bubble gum.

These powerful sensory activities that will help your child be in the here and now. Think of ways you can help your child connect with these senses (touch, smell, taste, sound,  and sight). Use these activities to help your child create a toolkit of mindful activities to help them self-soothe and regulate when they need to calm their systems down.

Need some more tools and strategies to help your child or the children and families you work with? We’ve got lots of practical and invaluable information for you to access 24/7. Click here to learn more


Don’t Let Halloween Be a Nightmare: 5 Halloween Success Tips for Sensitive, Anxious, Impulsive Children

October 16th, 2012

If your child is sensitive to sounds, bright lights, large groups, or clothing, or your child is anxious, easily becomes overwhelmed and/or acts impulsively Halloween can be a really difficult time.

As a parent you can help your child manage their feelings and behaviors with these 5 tips:

  1. Be realistic: You know what your child can handle and what triggers their meltdowns. Set them up for success by encouraging costumes and situations that they can manage. Don’t feel pressured by friends or family members to do something you feel would be overwhelming for your child.
  2. Pick a costume that you know will work: Your child is fixated on being Spider-man, but you know the costume he picked at the store will be too tight, scratchy, uncomfortable, and will lead to sensory overload. Find a way to adapt the costume or create something Spidey-like at home that will feel comfortable on your child.
  3. Pick an activity that’s right for your child: Halloween falls on a school night and you know your child will be too excited from trick-or-treating and candy to function at school, and that may cause a tailspin of negative behaviors over the next few days.  Decide what will be the best activity for your child, such as a party on the weekend and handing out candy at home. Whatever you decide be clear, set a time frame, and let your child know the plans ahead of time.
  4. Let them know what’s appropriate and inappropriate: Help your child learn boundaries and expectations by being clear about what behaviors are acceptable and how you will give your child feedback if they are acting inappropriately.  For example, let your child know they will walk together as a group, and if they run ahead you will remind them, and if they choose not to listen you will have them walk next to you (or hold your hand). Clear boundaries can help your child mange their fears and worries, which often looks like acting out behaviors.
  5. Set boundaries with candy: Your child may be thrilled with their bag o’ treats and want to eat as many as they can before bedtime, but you know that will only wire them up for the evening. Tell your child what’s expected with the candy, such as waiting to eat it until they get home, you check it, how many pieces they can have tonight, where the candy will be kept, etc.  Clear expectations will help reduce arguments and before bedtime meltdowns that come from too much candy, being tired, and overstimulation.

CQ Creative Activity:

Create Halloween Rules. On a big piece of poster board discuss with your child the rules and expectations for Halloween night. Be concrete, such as they will not eat the candy until you have checked it, they will walk with a flashlight, they will be in bed by 8pm. Discuss consequences/ rewards for following the rules. If your child is older ask them write down the rules, or you can write them down if you have a younger child. Ask your child to draw pictures on the poster board of each rule and decorate it with spooky images. Do this a few days before Halloween and review the rules before you go out. If age appropriate, have your child sign the rules so you are both in agreement.

If you are worried that your child may need some support do not miss the International Parents & Professionals (IPPC) October Support Call “Is There Something Wrong with My Child? Indicators Parents & Professionals need to be aware of”. Click here to learn more about the IPPC

 


Sarasota Therapy Group for Children: Art Therapy Group Now Forming

October 3rd, 2012

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 23rd- November 27th

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.


Resistance is futile, or is it?

September 5th, 2012

“Resistance is futile” Even if you have never watched a single episode of Star Trek, you may have heard this quote. It’s the message the Borg tell other alien races as they intend to assimilate them into their collective on their quest for perfection. Wow, pretty heavy stuff!

As a family, we too have a collective mentality of how we believe others should behave, and when they don’t respond accordingly it can push all of our buttons.  Children may resist our requests to do what we asked, even stuff we perceive as simple, such as a few homework problems. The feature article below provides tips and a CQ creativity activity to help you and your child navigate resistance without resorting to yelling, lecturing, and arguing.

Being a creative type I love freedom and flexibility. When I was younger I was very resistant about anything that felt like it was limiting my spontaneous creative expression.  So schedules, to do lists, and homework were all met with resistance.  It felt like another thing that needed to be done, which took time away from my creative playtime; and as a foot-dragging perfectionist I would wait until the very last minute before I started.  Yes, I would get good grades and my room would be cleaned, but it would be at the 11th hour.

I bet a few of you can relate from your own experiences, or from seeing your child “dance the resistance dance”.

Here are a few things I learned which may help you navigate your own resistance and the resistance you encounter with your child:

  1. Have a conversation: Back in the day it was often “my way or the highway” when it came to doing things such as homework and chores.  The adults made the rules and children were expected to follow the rules, period.  It created a lot of resistance in our household. Now I often see parents who overcompensate and give their child too much freedom and flexibility and then wonder why things don’t get done. So have a conversation with your child about when they want to do their homework, what chores they do, etc. Look for a win:win and test it out. If your child is successful at what you’ve agreed to, that’s great. If they are having difficulties following what they agreed to, then revisit the conversation.
  2. What are your expectations: Are they realistic, do they align with what your child is capable of, does it respect their opinion?  I recommend being flexible, yet concrete, when setting expectations. That means you and your child can work out the details and compromise how and when things get done, but you are very clear and concrete with what you’ve both agreed to.
  3. Acknowledge the anxiety/fear of getting started: If your child has high expectations, the need to do things perfectly, or they fear that they not good enough or they may be embarrassed by doing it all wrong then allow an opportunity to explore these feelings.  Sometimes parents resist acknowledging feelings because things just need to get done quickly and it feels like that will take too much time. The reality is that if you take the time to help your child identify their feelings, acknowledge and understand their point of view, and they feel heard, then it’s often easier to move on to what needs to be done.
  4. When you become angry or upset how do you respond?  Take a minute to think about your physiological response when you are upset. Does your throat get tight, your stomach churn; where do you feel it in your body?  What do others say about your behavior when you get upset? Do you repeat yourself again and again, do you lecture, get louder, leave the room frustrated, or say hurtful things?  As a child my parents would yell and I would then become more resistant and shutdown, and now as an adult when I get upset I lecture or repeat myself until I feel heard. We are all doing our human dance, and when you are aware you are of your triggers and reactions you can consciously choose to change how you respond.
  5. Open your heart with love and compassion: It’s so easy to slip into frustration when others are not doing what they “need to do” or what you asked them to do.  There are many useful tools and strategies to help children change their behaviors; however, at the core of these behaviors are often feelings around being lovable, good enough, worthy, and safe.  You can show up with love, kindness and understanding so you can help your child move through difficult feelings and negative behaviors.  Expecting a child to change their behaviors is unrealistic if you continue to respond to your child in same way. You must be willing to soften, learn, and grow together, and that can be really hard if you were not raised that way. The good news it that you can learn how to communicate in a more supportive way and help your child move through resistance.

 

CQ Playful Creative Activity:

 

Here’s an activity to help you connect with your body sensations, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors when you get upset. Create an outline of your body on piece of paper with markers. If your child is doing this activity you can trace their body outline, or else you can draw it on a piece of paper. Think of something specific that makes you upset, and allow your body to feel it.  What does it look like, where is it in your body, what color is it, what are you thinking, what are you feeling, what does your body do. Become aware of your physical and emotional response and what triggers you.  Take the time to explore and process this experience, and if your child is creating an image, use it as an opportunity to connect with an open heart and understand their experiences.

 

If you grew up in a household where compassion and understanding and respect was lacking and you feel like it’s really hard to communicate without being reactive, you are not alone! We have a remarkable community of parents and professionals who desire in their hearts to teach children to communicate with love and compassion.  Come join our international community as we learn, laugh, and grow together.

 


Negative Thoughts? 3 Creative Ways to Help Your Child’s Negative Thoughts Become Unstuck

June 13th, 2012

Negative thoughts got your child down?

Your child is smart, funny, bright & amazing; yet sometimes they get really stuck on negative thinking, about themselves or worries about what might happen.  Research suggests our brain has a negativity bias, where we are biologically programmed to look for the negative experiences to keep ourselves physically safe.  Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom shares that negative experiences “stick” to our brain more than positive experiences. So if you know of someone (child or adult) who is always seeing the glass half-empty have a bit of sympathy that they are functioning from their “sticky” brain.

 

Here’s the good news, you can retrain your brain and help your loved ones shift their thinking to a more positive state.  Dr. Hanson calls this “Taking in the Good”.  Here are three creative ways to take in the good and help negative thought patterns come unstuck.

 

  1. Help your child identify the underlying need that your child’s negative thought is attempting to protect them from. I sometimes explain that negative thoughts are trying to do a job, such as keeping you safe and protecting you from bad stuff; but sometimes those negative thoughts get rowdy and start causing lots of problems and they need to be fired. You can act out your best Donald Trump and fire those negative thoughts. For example, your child may be worried about making new friends and they think no one likes them. These thoughts may be attempting to keep your child safe and protect them from feeling vulnerable and unlovable.  Acknowledge those negative thoughts and then give them the boot (your child can get very playful and write down or draw out negative thoughts and then “fire them”).
  2. Now play detective with your child. Together look and find evidence of times when your child is feeling those underlying emotions they desire to feel, such as lovable, safe, and vulnerable when they are connecting with others. Be playful during this process; the more you make it into a positive game, the more likely your child will be excited to play along.
  3. Get Creative! Ask your child to use their imagination and create all the times that they feel those positive feelings. You can make a big poster of positive things they do that remind them they are safe, and loveable- such as petting the dog, hugs from mom and dad, snuggling in bed, playing with their friend, swimming with their brother/sister. When your child is feeling negative thoughts, acknowledge their underlying feelings and reconnect with a positive experience. This could be as simple as looking at their poster, making art around things that feel good, asking for what feels good (hugs, cuddles), or choosing from an activity that is on the poster they created.

 

 

Make this process something that everyone in the house is involved in. Ask yourself how negative thinking is impacting you (and your relationships). Want some honest feedback? Ask your partner and listen without interrupting.  Practice this in your home: look for things that are right with others, create your own poster of positive images that remind you of the good in your life, discuss three good things that happened to you each day at dinner or before bed, choose those yummy activities when you start to revert to stinking thinking and train your brain to look for the positive.

 

If your parenting partner is not on the same page and you find yourself battling them (again and again) to help your child. You are not alone! Here’s a powerful secret… when you make positive changes the family system changes. I’ll be sharing powerful information to help your family make changes in the upcoming support call Parenting SOS! What to do when you and your child’s parent have different parenting styles?  I look forward to playing with you on the call!


Play: Reduce worry and power struggles

March 7th, 2012

Jumping, running, playing- you’ve heard the positive benefits that play has on fine and gross motor skills and physical development, but did you know that play and exercise have therapeutic benefits?

Did you know research supports the benefits of play and exercise on reducing depression and anxiety? When excising and playing your body releases feel-good chemicals (neurotransmitters and endorphins), your body temperature rises, increasing calming effects, distracts you from worries, can improve sleep, strengthen your heart, lower your blood pressure, while strengthening the body and immune system. Yes, play is therapeutic!

Yet, given unstructured free time most children would prefer to watch television, play with their video games, text, be on social media, listen to music, or surf the web. Children are often in structured environments (sitting and listening) and then they unwind by plugging in to their electronics. When problems arise I often prescribe play to help children self-regulate their behaviors and emotions. Here are some common concerns that parents have regarding their children and some ways that play and exercise can be used therapeutically to benefit your child.

Children who have issues with sitting still, paying attention, focusing, doing homework can benefit from play after school. Your child has been focusing and working on paying attention all day and they need some time to release their pent up energy. Asking some children who struggle with attention and impulsivity (children with attention deficit issues, ADD and ADHD)  to do homework right after school is asking for a power struggle. Create a break between school a homework, take your child to the park, play tag, time them running and see if they can beat their time, go swimming, get out toys and play, paint, color, put on music and dance. Allow time to release energy and then create a transitioning calm down routine, such as a snack, before moving into a more focused activity.

Children who are anxious and worried can benefit from play and exercise to increase endorphins. Engage in gross motor activities, such as tossing a ball and naming worries and positives for the day, or blow bubbles and worries away and catch the bubbles that are good thoughts (use a big bubble blowing kit for expansive movement), or focus on a worry and then hula hoop for 5 minutes, and check to see if the worry is still as big.

Children who are frustrated can benefit from playtime where they can express their frustrations by ripping up paper with things that frustrate them written on it, or using a big piece of paper and painting with both the left and right hands, or bouncing on trampoline and naming all the things that bother them, or drawing/writing frustrations and throwing them in a basket.

Children who have a difficult time getting along with their sibling and peers can use play to work on positive communication, asking for what they want, learning how to cope with frustrations, and working out problems. Imaginary games, interactive art activities, or building with Lego’s provides an opportunity to manage differences.

Children who have a difficult time sleeping and self-calming can use exercise to help them get a good night’s sleep. Engage in running and swimming, or sports where they are continually moving (such as soccer or basketball). Make sure these activities happen in the afternoon or early evening so your child has plenty or time to regulate their body for sleep.

What play strategies you use to help your child?

If you are in the Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, Venice Florida area and you are looking for child therapy, we can help. Schedule a 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  to help your child.


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 .


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 .