Archive for the ‘Art Therapy’ Category

Using art to teach boundaries, respect, communication, and cooperation

July 9th, 2013

Last month’s International Parents and Professionals Community Support call was with Dr. Jane Bluestein and we talked about practical and positive strategies to build cooperation, responsibility, and mutual respect with children (if you missed this ‘must listen to call’ you can find out more here https://thecreativityqueen.com/bluestein).

It got me thinking about how important it is to set boundaries and clear expectations with kids. Also, the importance of very specific and concrete consequences (both positive and negative).  I find that the kids who struggle the most are often the ones whose parents flip flop on boundaries (sometimes a NO turns into a YES) or a child’s negative behavior triggers you to lose your cool or frustrates you to the point that you give in.

Summertime means more time with your family, more sibling time together, and more unstructured time. All of that can lead to arguments, annoyances, and frustrations.

You can teach your kiddos lots of great skills using art, such as respecting boundaries, communicating wants, cooperating, and learning consequences.

Here’s a creative playful CQ activity:

Get a large piece of paper and set the rules for playing together. Let your child know how long you’ll be making art and the expectations (such as helping pick-up the materials, asking for help, etc). Explain that you’ll be working together or that they will be working with their siblings. Pick a theme to create, this time of year an underwater theme or at the beach is a fun theme to explore. Tell your child that they can create on one side of the paper their own scene, and you (or their sibling has the other side of the paper) and explain that the middle of the paper is where they can create things together. Be clear that they need to ask before touching another person’s materials or going on the other person’s side. Let them know what the consequences will be ahead of time for good choices and poor choices. If your children are doing this together monitor the process, provide feedback, and explore choices.

Depending upon your child, you can provide basic materials such as markers or crayons, or you can provide sensory materials such as glitter glue, pom-poms, finger paint, or play-dough. Use this experience as a teaching opportunity to explore respecting boundaries, develop communication skills, such as asking for what you need, tolerating frustration, and organizing materials. Recognize positive choices and explore consequences of poor choices.

Every moment is a teaching moment, so help your child develop the skills to understand and respect boundaries, communicate their wants, and learn the consequences of their choices.


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


Can you hear me now? What’s up when your child is acting out

February 19th, 2013

Your child tells their brother to stop hitting them, they aren’t listening, the fighting begins and someone ends up crying “mmmoooooommmmmm”,

Your teen asks if they can go on Facebook, you tell them no, and find them pretending to do homework while chatting with their friends online,

You told your daughter she has to watch her bother’s game and she spends the afternoon whining and complaining that she hates her bother,

Your child wants to go to McDonald’s on the way home from school and when you say no, he has a fit for 30 minutes,

Your child’s sister is on the computer/tv/phone, and it’s unfair. You hear about how wrong you are for the rest of the night,

Your child comes home from your ex’s house from a weekend visit and all of a sudden you are the “bad guy” for asking them about homework.

It seems like you can’t win, and  no matter what you do your child is upset or angry and once again they are yelling or arguing. Is there really such a thing as a peaceful home?

Here’s the scoop- all of our behaviors are an attempt to get our needs met, and each of us have different needs we are trying to meet. Some of us want more freedom, some want more control, some want to feel safe, some want to feel loved and understood, and some want more fun. Our needs are so very different, and when we are feeling like our needs are not being met, watch out- that’s when the negative behaviors arise. Depending upon who you are (and your life experience) you may shutdown or act out when you’re feeling like your your not being understood or your needs aren’t being met.

Often those negative behaviors are ways of communicating without the words- yelling, pouting, hitting, tantrums, are all ways of expressing, “can you hear me now?”

Not the best the ways to get your needs met, for sure.

So how can you help your child (spouse/partner) express their needs and feelings in a positive way?

CQ Playful Creative Activity:           

Bust out the art supplies! Help your child identify what’s important to them. Create images, words, collages of what they like, what is meaningful in their lives. Help them put words to what’s important. This will help you understand why they are so upset when their brother changes the channel when they are watching Sponge Bob. You can help by validating their feelings, “I know it’s important to you and you feel upset”.
Use art to explore choices, create images or a collage of things they can do when they are feeling upset. Help them to identify ways they can get their needs met, and if they aren’t able to get what they want, things that they can do to help them calm down. Sometimes knowing you are heard and that you have choices is a pretty powerful tool that can diffuse reactive behaviors.

Use art to encourage identifying and expressing feelings. Sometimes it’s hard to verbalize or even understand a painful experience. The use of art materials can provide a safe container for self-expression.

Are you in need of some more support to help your child? Join the International Parents & Professionals Community– We’ve got lots of resources, 24/7 access to information to help your child whenever you need it, a group of awesome community members, plus you”ll have access to the upcoming February Support Call “Egads, what do I do to help my attention deficit, impulsive (ADD/ADHD) child?”

Need more support for your child, or you’re looking for child or family art therapy in the Sarasota, Fl area? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Laura by clicking here.


Paint Brushes NOT Pills & Markers NOT Medicine

February 5th, 2013

The CQ is on a mission these days, so inspired by the possibilities of how connecting with our creativity can help transform our lives, our communities, and our planet. There is a shift happening, a movement from intellectualizing and rationalizing to embracing intuition, creativity, and connection. The cool part is that brain based research is leading the way on new developments on happiness, compassion, and awareness as treatments for mental health.  The feature article Paint Brushes NOT Pills & Markers NOT Medicine is the CQ’s declaration of a Creative Revolution from the new possibilities that are emerging, and how you can join the Creative Revolution!

I’ve been following mental health and medication treatment options since the 1980’s, when I began working at an agency for individuals with disabilities. The folks I worked with ranged from those who lived independently in their own apartments to those individuals who required extensive 1:1 supervision to meet their daily needs and prevent them from hurting themselves or others.

 

The advent of medication allowed many individuals who lived in mental institutions to become more independent. I saw firsthand people who were institutionalized for most of their lives become actively engaged in their community, and live a more fulfilling life. I was trained to give medications and learn the various side effects, and I felt it greatly benefited the individuals in need.

 

Fast forward several decades (I know the queen is aging herself) and it seems like everyone has a diagnosis these days. It’s great that there is so much awareness around mental health; consequently, it almost becomes a point of identity for so many teens and young adults. They jokingly reference their diagnosis, google disorders and label themselves or their friends. Yes, it helps to have language to understand your thoughts and behaviors, and at times it seems to be part of kid’s core identity (and when you identify yourself a certain way it’s hard to see yourself, or for others to see you, differently).

 

However, there is a new movement, one I am so very excited about. These are the parents and professionals who understand a need for a common language of diagnosis, and for medications to be used, only when they are absolutely necessary. These parents & professionals are the next generation, realizing that a pill is not “the” solution and that a label does not define their child. These parents are much more interested in finding solutions, having their children learn new skills, and teach ways to shift behaviors and thoughts and emotions (yay for cognitive behavioral therapy-CBT).

 

I imagine if you are reading this you are of this TRIBE and we are a powerful group that will shake up the mental health system (more yays)!

 

So you ask, what’s up with the title? Paint Brushes NOT Pills & Markers NOT Medicine!

 

It’s time to start a Creative Revolution to help our children learn to cope without initially reaching for a pill.

 

How can we bring art into the lives of children to help them manage with difficult behaviors and feelings? By becoming a Creative Revolutionist!

Become a Creative Revolutionist and set your child up for life-long success:

  • Encourage creative outlets to channel their energy, anger, sadness, and worries.

 

  • Teach them how to express their voice through art, music, writing, dance, and theatre.

 

  • Retrain the brain with creativity: Help improve focus with stimulating creative activities that require attention, mindfulness, and awareness of how their bodies, thoughts, and feelings are responding.

 

  • Sit with a child and help them build a challenging project and model how to manage frustrations in a positive way.

 

  • Allow for messy creative play with materials to encourage cognitive and physical flexibility.

 

  • Build something detail orientated that requires commitment to a project over a long period of time.

 

  • Bond over doing a project together, there is nothing like sitting at the same table working together on an activity to build connection.

 

  • Shoot a video of your child teaching you a new technique or activity, boosting their confidence and mastery.

 

  • Work on small projects that require patience.

 

  • Create imaginary worlds to work through problems they are encountering with peers of siblings.

 

I ask you: how can we support children so that they see themselves as so much more than a diagnosis, how can they learn the skills to cope with life’s difficulties, how can they learn to tap into their creative potential to shine their unique brilliance?

 

Let’s pioneer this Creative Revolution together!


Prevent Holiday Tantrums and Meltdowns at ANY Age

December 4th, 2012

The holidays are a very exciting and stimulating time of year, and regardless of your age you may find yourself overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to meltdown from stress. Now imagine you are a child with limited control and resources to express and manage your stress. No wonder this time of the year can be overwhelming for kids and adults alike! Here are 4 ways to prevent holiday tantrums and meltdowns at any age:

 

  1. Overstimulation is… overstimulating! Running around from store to store and from activity to activity is exhausting for everyone, especially children who are sensitive to the environment or have sensory issues. All those bright lights and loud stores are enough to unnerve anyone.  Know your child’s limitations and don’t ask them to go beyond what they are capable of doing. Instead, arrange a play date, ask a relative to help out, have your spouse watch the kids as you go and take care of shopping or last minute details.
  2. Kids don’t always have the words to tell you. When children are exhausted and overwhelmed they don’t always have the awareness or ability to let you know that they are at their limit. Heck, even as adults we can easily minimize our spouse/partner when they say that they have had enough and need a break…”Oh but there are a few more things we’ve GOT to get done”! Listen to your child, look at their body cues, and help them identify when they need a break. By helping your child understand and positively express their limits you can avoid the meltdowns and tantrums, especially the public ones that leave you wanting to sneak out of the store from embarrassment.
  3. Get back to basics: Wacky schedules, too much sugar, not enough exercise will lead to mood dysreguation.  Keep a daily schedule with regular bedtimes and use a whiteboard to add special events.  Limit all those holiday sweets. A simple rule of 1 sweet a day can help diffuse the arguments over cookies and candy.  If your child drinks soda, it may be time to choose a natural soda or limit the amount of soda. Clean out the cupboards of salty snacks, toss the ice cream and other sugars, and get outside and exercise.  Head to the local YMCA, join a sport, or just get outside. Exercise helps reduce stress and regulate mood (and helps with anxiety and depression).
  4. Pick and choose what’s important. What do you want your holiday memories to be like? If you are trying to pack everything holiday into 4 weeks you’ll be creating memories, for sure, but they may not be the memories you would like your child to remember!

 

CQ Playful Creative Activity:           

 

Here’s a creative activity to help you choose what’s important for your family. Take a few minutes and some deep breaths then find some magazines (or just get paper and pen/pencils/markers).  Choose a few words that reflect what you would like this holiday season to be remembered as. Write those words or cut the words out from magazines and paste onto paper. Then write down all of the things you believe you “should” do over the holidays on a separate piece of paper.  Look at your list of things to do and remove activities that do not align with the words you desire to create. This can be an empowering activity for the whole family, to help your family choose what’s important (and not so much) for the holidays.

Set your child up for success by joining the International Parents & Professionals Community December support call with guest expert Deborah McNelis on  the topic of “Brain Insights: Make a Positive Difference for Children!” You’ll get access to positive and practical strategies to help your child develop a healthy brain.


7 Creative Activities to Help Toddlers and Preschoolers Positively Identify and Express Their Emotions

November 13th, 2012

ARE YOU A PARENT OR PROFESSIONAL?

Join the International Parents & Professionals Community (IPPC) monthly Support Call Tuesday, November 27th. I’ll be speaking on the topic “7 Creative Activities to Help Toddlers and Preschoolers Positively Identify and Express Their Emotions

 

If you have a toddler or preschooler in your life then you are likely looking for tools to help children manage their big feelings? Perhaps you are looking for activities to engage your child and help them learn how to manage their behaviors? Maybe you are looking for creative support tools to teach children how to get along with others without hitting, screaming, and throwing a tantrum?  The Creativity Queen has got you covered!

 

On this call I’ll share:

 

Seven creative activities to help children regulate their social interactions, emotions, and behaviors. These activities will encourage young children to:

 

  • Express and communicate both verbally & non-verbally,
  • Identify and express their feelings, asserting themselves in positive ways,
  • Develop communication, problem solving, creativity and self-confidence,
  • Positively interact with other children and reinforce appropriate behaviors,
  • Participate in age-appropriate cooperative play, choosing positive behaviors,
  • and guide children through problem-solving and conflict resolution solutions

 

You will leave this call with art activities and creative ideas to encourage positive healthy expression with young children.  This call is F*R*E*E* to all IPPC members. Join us on this creative support call. Click here to learn more about our supportive community and all the resources for children and families


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.


7 Ways to Overcome ‘I can’t do this’

September 17th, 2012

I can do it!

Have you ever noticed your bright, creative, resourceful child shutdown over something difficult? Whether it’s a difficult school subject, a social event, a challenging situation, all of a sudden they have completely shutdown. They may hang their head, burst into tears, whine or pout, become non-responsive, or even leave the room lamenting ‘I can’t do this’. As a parent you are left scratching your head wondering what set off this chain of events, and questioning what you can do to help your child.

Here are 7 ways to help your child shift their thinking from ‘I can’t’ to ‘How can I’:

  1. Become a detective: Channel your inner Colombo and become really curious about what’s happening. Are there specific events or circumstances that set your child into a downward spiral of ‘I can’t’ thinking? Notice when and where this happens, how intense the response is, and how long the episode lasts.
  2. Identify the triggers: Help your child identify situations or circumstances that trigger ‘I can’t’ thinking and behaviors.  Without judgment or criticism, discuss what happens.
  3. Explore the gap: When your child responds with ‘I can’t’ do they need some additional support? Are they missing some information or need some support, but they haven’t learned how to ask for what they need? Explore if there are things they need to learn (such as organization or time management skills) to help them overcome the struggle they are encountering.
  4. Encourage communication: Children who shutdown and express ‘I can’t’ may have a difficult time communicating what they are feeling, what they want, or what they need. During a period when they are calm and open take the time to talk about how they feel when they say they can’t do something. Help them label their emotions, and identify feelings of stress and overwhelm, and discuss different ways they can respond when they are feeling like they can’t do something.
  5. Look for the exceptions: Notice when your child encounters something difficult and they are able to continue to work through it without giving-up or saying ‘I can’t’.  Be curious and ask how they did something difficult, and point out how their response was different.
  6. Reflect: Look back at the intensity and frequency of their responses in the past and how their thoughts and behaviors have changed. Take time to acknowledge their tenacity and celebrate their determination.
  7. Explore therapy to help uncover underlying emotions and beliefs: ‘I can’t’ thinking and behaviors are often rooted in beliefs of not being enough- not good enough, smart enough, or capable enough. Children may feel unlovable, inadequate, misunderstood, or incapable.  Even children who come from a stable and loving home may feel these feelings. Therapy can help your child explore their feelings and release these unhealthy beliefs.

 

CQ Playful Creative Activity:

Here’s a creative activity to help your child shift their thinking from ‘I can’t’ to ‘How can I’.  Use clay or paper and create a magical helper that can help solve the problems your child encounters. Allow your child the opportunity to be really silly and talk about the special qualities and characteristics this magic helper would have to overcome any obstacles they encounter (and don’t forget to name it too). When small problems arise during the day ask your child what their magical helper might do in this situation and allow for playful and divergent solutions.

Do you need more tools and support to help your child manage difficult situations?  Check-out our library of resources at your fingertips 24/7!


Using Art Therapy to Understand Children’s Drawings Fox 13 News Good Day Tampa Bay

June 22nd, 2012

Thank you to Good Day Tampa Bay Fox 13 News and Laura Moody for the opportunity to share about art therapy!


Are You a Creativity Queen?

June 6th, 2012

Creativity Queen, are you one? Well that’s a a big question to ask! Hmm…

As a Creativity Queen you:

listen to your inner creative longings and hear what your heart has to say,

take time to play and act silly, so much so that your loved ones roll their eyes in embarrassment,

lovingly speak your truth even when it feels super sucky,

listen with your soul to others and yourself,

laugh so hard things come out of your nose,

treat your body like it’s a friend and love even the parts you want to look away from,

remember that the only one you can please is yourself,

savor the really good things in life like the morning good-bye kisses and licking melted chocolate off of your fingers,

recharge in beauty, nature, sensuality, and solitude- coming back to center so you can connect with others more deeply,

know that creativity is more that making art and you flex your creative muscle throughout the day,

listen to the rhythms and cycles in your life, flowing and surrendering to what is and letting go of expectations and shoulds,

catch the mean bully in your mind saying bad things about you and tell it to take a hike,

you are wise enough to know better and compassionate enough to accept what is,

babies can’t help but smile at you, and animals want to follow you..

As a Creativity Queen you_______ (insert your creative goodness here:)

…so tell me dear sparkly soul sister are you a Creativity Queen?

Need to reconnect with your creative sparkly self?