Posts Tagged ‘child’

What’s really important to you?

May 16th, 2012

There are 100’s of things we ask of our loved ones each day. Everything from making your bed, brushing your teeth, doing homework, stop picking on your brother/sister, listen the first time I ask you….

Yes, these are all the daily to-do’s that you and your child need to navigate; and at times it seems like you are endlessly reminding them of all the things they need to take care of (again and again).  You may feel like you have become so disconnected from your child or teen or you are always reminding, lecturing, nagging and you’ve lost the loving relationship with your child you used to have.

CQ Playful Creative Activity:

Here’s a simple and playful way to lovingly reconnect with your child and loved ones.

Invite your inner child to play for a moment. So imagine the child within you that is the same age of your child or teen. Close your eyes if you need to and remember what it was like to be 5, 8, 12 or 16. Take a deep breath in and out, connect with and resonate with the feelings of being that age.

You can take out a blank paper and crayons or markers to help you connect with that child-like aspect of yourself. Write or make images in response to the following questions:

What was important to you then? What did you love doing and if you could do it all day, what would you do? How did you feel about the relationships in your life- your parents, your siblings, your friends? What did you wish that others knew about you?

If you could share anything with your parents, (and they could hear it without reacting), what would you let them know?

Then take a new piece of paper and create images and words to the questions above from your child’s point of view.

What do you discover about yourself and your child from this activity?

When you reconnect with your childlike self and remember what it was like to have all those big feelings and thoughts about others and yourself, you are able to show up with more empathy and compassion for your children.  With this awareness you can choose to refocus on what’s important in your relationship and compromise or let go of power struggles.

Do you need some more support to help lovingly reconnect with your child and stop the cycle of arguments, blaming, and nagging? Join the International Parents & Professionals Community

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It’s just not about the homework: How issues with school and homework impact your child

May 2nd, 2012

As we move into the end of school year there is often more stress, frustration, worry, and arguments over homework, from both parents and children.  There may be missing homework, or your child says they don’t have any homework and you find out from their teacher that they had a project due, and they didn’t turn it in.  Perhaps sitting down to do an assignment turns into a big fight, or your child is so distracted and fidgety that they waste thirty minutes procrastinating, and there are some parents who would rather just get it done, so they end up doing the project for their child.

Yes, homework headaches stink for everyone!

Yet, for your child, struggling at school and with homework may have a deeper impact on their feelings, self-competency, and self-esteem. Here are some thoughts and beliefs that children may develop when they struggle with homework:

I can’t do it

I must be dumb

Why is my bother/sister better

If I procrastinate then my parents will get frustrated and leave me alone

My teacher doesn’t like me

I don’t want to tell mom/dad about my schoolwork because they’ll be mad

If I wait to the last minute then I might be more motivated to do it

I don’t have a clue where to begin

Maybe they will do it for me

My parents/teacher will get really mad because I didn’t listen

I try to listen, but sometimes it doesn’t make sense and I don’t want them to think I’m stupid

If I ask a question in class everyone will make fun of me

Everyone else gets it, why don’t I

Something must be wrong with me

I never do anything right

Why are my parents always yelling at me

I don’t want to ask a question because they will get upset

I’ll just guess on all these answers and turn it in

If I finish this quickly I can play and do the things I like to do

It seems like all I do is homework and there is never anytime to play

If it’s at the bottom of my bag then they won’t see it

I can tell them I already did it

It’s easier to say I forgot and maybe I won’t get in trouble

I’m going to get yelled at/lectured/punished anyway, so what’s the point

I don’t want to be embarrassed

Sometimes I get excited and I forget what I’m supposed to do

I try hard, but I never seem to get it right

There must be something wrong with me

No one else has these problems

I wish I knew how to do it, but I don’t

It comes easy to all the other kids, but not for me

I make one little mistake and that’s all my parents and teachers pay attention to

I’d rather lie that get in trouble

I’m worthless

I should be punished,

I’m stupid

I’m unlovable

Notice how a child’s thoughts and beliefs can quickly spiral downward if they have a poor sense of self.  You can help shift these negative patterns by changing how you respond to homework problems and by teaching your child skills to manage homework stressors.

Needs some support to help your child manage homework stress? Join us for the upcoming International Parents & Professionals Community Support Call Stop Homework Power Struggles: Step to minimize the homework battles and make homework time peaceful& receive free access to the call replay 27/4!

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.

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Got problems? 3 things you can do to help your child become more resourceful and resilient

April 17th, 2012

We all want to teach children to be resourceful and resilient. As adults we see the necessity of learning how to cope with difficulties and find the strength and resources to overcome adverse situations. No matter who you are, and how you were raised, there will be times when you encounter problems and you must decide what to do.

 

Obstacles are opportunities in disguise. Understanding this statement may help you the next time your child (or you) encounters a problem. When your child encounters a problem they are building up their natural abilities to create solutions and figure out how to do or think differently. Our “emergency response system ” to the problems we encounter starts to be developed in childhood. If a child learns to get their needs met by a specific behavior they will continue that behavior. Even if they do not get their needs met they may repeat the same behaviors due to learned helplessness.

 

Think about your own moments when you’ve struggled with a problem you have had no control over. What type of behavior did you exhibit? When this happened did you meltdown in tears, stuff your feelings, push through the obstacle, blame others, act helpless, or act out? If you’ve had these moments you’ve probably slipped into childlike thoughts, feelings, and behaviors perhaps because you didn’t have a parent or adult that modeled appropriate ways to get your needs met or how to communicate what you needed. Although we’ve all had these moments we can teach children a different way to cope with adversity.

 

Here are 3 things you can do to help your child become more resourceful and resilient:

 

1. Lovingly let them struggle

 

Yup! Sometimes when you jump in to help too quickly you take away an opportunity for your child to learn how to overcome the problem. Unless it is a safety issue, give your child some space to figure it out before you step in. Do this in a gentle loving manner.

 

2. Offer support not solutions

 

Rather than jumping in and coming up with answers allow your child a chance to talk about their options. Just by listening you allow them an opportunity to figure things out on their own. This works wonderfully with teens & partners too!

 

3. Let them know you love them

 

Sometimes their solutions will be different than yours. That’s OK. They are learning to figure it out in their own way. Reinforce that you love them even when you may not love their choices.

 

 

CQ Playful Creative Activity:           

 

As adults when we encounter obstacles and revert back to childlike behaviors we have an opportunity for a “do-over”. We can give ourselves what we didn’t get as children. Pull out the finger paints or some messy art materials the next time you feel overwhelmed by an obstacle. Create two images. The first image create what you are feeling- allow yourself to express all your emotions. In the second image create marks, colors, and words your inner child would like to hear to help soothe and comfort that aspect of yourself.

 

Use this tool with your child too. Before you jump into to fix or problem solve, provide your child with a creative outlet for expression of their feelings- then listen without judgment to what they choose to share.

 

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. Want lots more empowering creative tools? Join our NEW Supportive, Non-Judgmental & Downright Awesome Community of Parents & Professionals committed to lovingly transforming the lives of children across the globe.

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10 Phrases That Every Child Needs to Hear From the Adults in Their Lives

March 19th, 2012

What would happen if …your child embodied these 10 phrases? Imagine the difference it would make in your child’s life.

I call these the 10 commitments, the words your child needs to hear from you:

You are lovable:

No matter what, you are lovable. You do not have to do anything or be anything more than what you are to be loved and to be lovable. In this moment I recognize you and love you just as you are.

Sometimes it hurts:

At moments life is painful and there is nothing you can do to make it any better. It just feels bad and I am here to be with you in these difficult moments.

You are safe:

Although I can’t protect you when things go wrong or you are scared, know that you have within you tremendous courage. Even when things feel dark and hopeless, take a deep breath and know that you are in this moment okay.

Let me try and understand:

I may not know what it is like to be you, I don’t know what happens in your heart and in your mind, I don’t know why you act the way that you do sometimes, so please help me understand. I am willing to listen and respect what you have to say.

I respect you:

You have different ideas, and see the world differently than I do. Sometimes we struggle to

meet eye to eye, but who you are as a person is good and kind and there are moments when I look at you and have such deep respect for the person that you are.

Teach me:

At times I forget to be patient, sometime I snap at you, at times I want things done quickly, and done “my way”. Please continue to teach me patience, remind me to be flexible, show me the gifts that you have in your heart about love and kindness. I can learn so much from you when I am willing to slow down and just be with you.

You are good enough and you are whole:

Please remember that nothing anyone says or does, or nothing that you can do or say, will make you less that whole. You are loveable and there is nothing that you can have, do, or be that will make you more loveable that who you already are.

You are worthy:

You are worthy of happiness, love, and kindness, and all goodness, no more and no less than any other being. Sometime I struggle to remember this in my own life and I thank you for reminding me.

Let your uniqueness shine:

I know at times it feels like things would be better if you just fit in and you were like everyone else, it feels isolating to be different and stand out. I honor and celebrate what makes you uniquely you, no one else on this planet can take your place, and that’s truly remarkable.

I am sorry:

I try to help you grow into being a happy and kind child, and sometimes I try too hard and I forget what an amazing gift you are. You are funny, kind, you have such a generous heart, and love to laugh and play. I’m sorry for those times when I forget to look at you with the love and compassion you deserve.

Thank you,

Your parent

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.

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3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to finally get your kids (and spouse) to listen

November 1st, 2011

Does your child have trouble listening to you? Are you feeling like a broken record, asking again and again for what you want, and feeling like you are being totally ignored? If you’ve asked for what you wanted and everyone in your household seems to ignore your request you’ll likely get to a point where you begin to wonder, “why isn’t this working, why aren’t they listening?”

You may begin to get to a boiling point, get mad, throw a fit,  threaten, just give in and take care of it yourself, or complain about all that you do for everyone in the house. What you’ll likely find is that when you reach your boiling point and react (or just take care of it yourself while silently resenting your family members), others may for a short period of time take notice.  Heck, you may even get your teen (or husband) to listen and pick-up their underwear off of the bedroom floor if you yell loudly enough, AND….

…you may be creating a pattern of negative behaviors to get your needs met. So your children and spouse continue to ignore your requests and pleas until you blow your top, then all of sudden they are listening,  responding quickly and wondering, “What’s up with mom ?”

We know that children model their parent’s behaviors, so the last thing you want to teach your child is that ignoring and then overreaching is a healthy way to communicate. The best way to teach your child to listen, respect your requests, and to communicate in healthy way is to learn how to communicate your wants and needs in a healthy manner first.

You can use creativity to get back into you parenting authority, and here’s a way you can do so. Create an image of something (or someone) that represent being empowered, strong, assertive, and clear. Take a minute to see what pops up for you. Now embody this! Wear it like a cloak and ground yourself in this image. When your child or spouse wants to “hook you into an argument” or they are ignoring your requests, connect with this empowering image before you respond. You’ll respond from a centered more calm place; then you can use the 3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to ask for what you need! You can take this exercise even further and create an image of this and put it in a place where you’ll see it often as visual reminder of being in your parenting power.

Drum roll please….I’m going to share with you my 3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to finally get your kids (and spouse) to listen.

  1. Validate your child’s feelings
  2. Use the assertive triangle to state how you feel and what you need. I teach that technique in the free audio-telesemiar  Secrets Your Kids Really Don’t Want You to Know: A Child Art Therapist Tells All (*except for the confidential stuff) and you can access in the box above.
  3. Be clear of consequences and follow-through

Here’s how it might sound. You come in to your teen’s room and it is a mess and you’ve ask them to clean it and they are on Facebook with their friends.

“I understand that Facebook and connecting with your friends is important to you and it’s upsetting to get off the computer when you want to be on it. When I walk into your room and it’s messy and I asked you to clean it I feel upset and disrespected. Please pick-up all the clothes off of the floor and put them in the hamper and remove the dishes from your room by 9:00 pm tonight. If you choose not to then you will not be able to use the computer tomorrow.”

DONE! This is no need to lecture, no need to yell, not need to threaten, you have clearly asserted you needs, set reasonable expectations and consequences and given your child a choice. So there is no need to go on and on and lecture them (doing so you’ll lose your parenting authority).

This must be done in a neutral tone being in your parenting authority, so your child does not hook you and get you to react! Embody that image you created and operate from this calm- empowered place and you’ll be modeling for your children and spouse how to listen respectfully.

Have you tried different ways to communicate, but your child or spouse is still not listening?  We can help!

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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.

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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.

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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 .

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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

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Child Depression: 3 Creative Art Therapy Coping Strategies to Help Your Child with Depression

September 22nd, 2011

Children with depression: art therapy can help!

As featured on  PBS This Emotional Life

Depression in children and adolescents impacts 11.2 percent of children 13 to 18 years of age in the U.S. according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and 3.3 percent have experienced seriously debilitating symptoms of depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 3.7 percent of children between the ages of 8 and 15 have a mood disorder, with girls being diagnosed more frequently than boys and that treatment works for depression.

Children’s depression can look different than adult depression. Depression in children Symptoms of child depression: your child is not acting like him/herself, if he/she is lethargic and have lost interest in activities that once made them happy, if he/she is overly clingy, frequently reporting feeling sick, refusing to go to school or get in trouble at school, sleeping excessively or is excessively moody, there may be something more happening with your child.

So what course of action or treatment should you take if your child is suffering from depression? The Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study evaluated the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). The latest research suggests therapy and medication may be the most rapid form of effective treatment for childhood depression, although over time therapy alone is just as successful.

The Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study evaluated the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) therapy alone, medication alone, combined medication and cognitive behavior therapy treatment and placebo (sugar pill) treatments for adolescents 12 to 17 with depression. The combination of medication and therapy worked the most rapidly, although therapeutic treatment alone over months has a similar impact to the combination of therapy and medications. 

What is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) evidenced-based mental health treatment for children? How can it help your child to overcome the challenges of depression? CBT treatment for depression is a therapy that teaches an individual how to manage their thoughts, behaviors, and feelings through education while testing new behaviors and assumptions. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, treatment may include learning how to set realistic and positive personal goals, encourage participation in pleasant activities, discourage negative thoughts, solve social problems, negotiate and compromise when conflicts arise, and foster assertiveness.

If you feel that your child is just starting to demonstrate signs of depression and you’d like to begin the process of helping them manage their feelings, try any of these three art therapy coping strategies. Depression is serious, so consult a professional if your child is exhibiting signs of depression.

1. Design a creativity journal. Go shopping with your child and pick out a journal they like, or go to the arts and crafts store and find a blank artists journal and create an individualized cover using magazine images, old greeting cards, wallpaper samples, or scrapbook papers. Embellish with unique words and images that represent your child. Let your child know this is a safe place for them to express their thoughts and feelings without feeling like they have to censor words and images.

2. Create a feelings box. Something as simple as a shoebox can be decorated with images or words that feel empowering. Allow your child to use the box as a safe place to put their worries, anger, anxiety, fears, and frustrations. Cut up slips of paper and add words or images of things that bother your child, and then have your child add these to their feelings box and “close the lid” as they let those feelings go. This teaches your child to respectfully acknowledge their feelings and let them go.

3. Make a mask. Go to the arts and crafts store and find a papier-mâché mask, or for younger children you can use a paper plate or craft paper and cut out a mask shape. Ask your child to create an art image of what they choose to show other people on the outside of the mask, and what they keep to themselves in the inside of the mask. Younger children may need to have this modified by asking them to create on the inside of the mask what makes they sad or choose a color that represent how they feel when they are sad and on outside of the mask choose images or colors of feeling strong, brave, or happy.

Often children and teens feel like they have to mask their feelings so they do not upset others. Allow your child to create their masks without censorship. Ask your child to tell you about it if they choose to, then listen without judgment.

Seeking professional help is essential for a child who is experiencing depression. As a parent look for therapists who specialize in working with children and adolescents, and who utilize cognitive behavioral therapies that teach your child appropriate ways to positively express their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Children and teens respond positively to art therapy and an art therapist can help your child manage their depression, especially if they use cognitive behavioral therapy in art therapy. If your child is depressed and you are in need of child therapy in Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, Venice Florida, art therapy can help. Schedule your complimentary Support Consultation here.

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