Posts Tagged ‘child therapy’

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!

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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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Are You a Good Enough Parent?

February 21st, 2012

You may ask yourself, Am I good enough parent?

It seems like you are on a treadmill every day, trying to get the kids fed, looking for clean clothes, feeling overwhelmed by piles of to-dos, and struggling to get your child to sit down and do their homework without an argument. Oh yes, and don’t forget the last minute reminder from your child that you are supposed to bring in cookies for tomorrow.

There are moments you may wonder if you are doing a good enough job as a parent. Your heart may feel heavy, like you have failed as a parent. Here are 5 ways to be a good enough parent.

1. Let of comparing yourself to others. I bet you know at least one parent who looks so put together at the school meeting and car pick-up. You know, the person who has pressed pants, flawless hair, and lipstick. You made it out of the house with your hair in a ponytail and clean sweatpants, and all the kids have a lunch packed. At that moment when you bump into Wonder Mom you can easily start to criticize yourself for not appearing so put together. Let go of the self-critical thoughts, and replace these with some reminders of how you are rocking it just fine- heck, you don’t have a stain on your sweats and you didn’t forget anyone at home. Pat yourself on you back for what you are doing right and let go of the self-criticism.

2. Ask for support and let others help. There are so many things that need to be done throughout the day, and you may end up feeling like a workhorse. Let others help with household tasks. Have a list of chores that need to be done each day, put this on a whiteboard where everyone in the family can see it. Attach a specific reward to completing these tasks depending upon the age of the child. A 5 year old may be rewarded with an extra book at bedtime after cleaning up their toys, or your tween may earn computer time when they pick-up their clothes and make their bed, or you may give your teen an allowance for mowing the lawn. Ask for support and delegate household tasks.

3. Let go of doing things right. Many parents have a difficult time delegating out tasks because their child or spouse will not “do it right”. The secret is that many children (and spouses) know that is they do it “wrong” you will likely step in and do it for them. Yes, they will manipulate the situation, so let go of having things be a certain way. Plus, who want to hear nagging and criticism while your trying to be helpful? Ditch doing it the “right way” and welcome others to help out their way.

4. Model being good enough. I like to model when my “humanness is showing” and I use this phrase often when I make a mistake. Yes, we are all human, we all make mistakes, we all get upset, try too hard, mess up, misunderstand, miscommunicate- thank goodness! Let your child know that it’s okay to make mistakes, to try and fail, to be good enough. We ask children to try their best and let them know it’s okay of they didn’t make the team or get the grade they wanted. Can you model being okay with trying your best, even when things are disappointing and don’t work out the way you would like?

5. Be compassionate with yourself. Research suggests that those who score higher on self-compassion tests may be less anxious and depressed, and this may even impact eating habits and weight gain. So practice self-compassionate activities such as taking time for yourself, writing yourself a letter of support and understanding when you encounter a problem, making artwork that shows your positive traits, and ways you can be kind with yourself during difficult times.

You do not need to be extraordinary to be a good parent, you just need to be willing to communicate your needs and show respect and compassion for yourself and others.

If you are in the Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, Venice Florida area and you would like more parenting support 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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Are we over medicating children? The #1 thing you need to know!

January 25th, 2012

Are you reaching for medication when your child has a problem, are your child’s teachers diagnosing your child, is your pediatrician recommending medication for your child? Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision.

Think about the problems children have such as they are not paying attention at school, they may get really upset at their siblings and yell and hit, they may act out or shut down when they encounter a problem with school work, or say they don’t care. Perhaps they have a difficult time transitioning between homes if you are separated or they don’t listen, are disrespectful and moody.

There may be some underlying mood issues, anxiety problems, or attention difficulties, but as a parent you are really not quite sure.

Let’s say you go to your pediatrician’s office and ask questions. Your pediatrician may have studied mental disorders and will likely have the latest research available to them on what medications will fit the symptoms offered by pharmaceutical reps whose sole intention is to provide information to sell their product.  So your child appears to fit the criteria for anxiety, here is a pill and the problem should be resolved, right?

There is more to this picture, and when your child is having difficulties you want to make sure that you are addressing the issues, rather than masking the symptoms with a pill.

The #1 thing you need to know before you make the decision to medicate your child.

Is it a behavioral or communication issue?

The teacher at your child’s school thinks your child has ADHD because your child can’t sit still and focus. You notice your child rushes through their homework, they quickly answer questions and it’s sloppy, you try to help, but they just want to be done. A visit to the pediatrician’s office may lead to a label of ADHD and some medication. If your child is diagnosed correctly they now have the right medication to help them focus; but they will still need to learn strategies to help them think about choices and consequences, tools to help them stay on task during difficult situations, and help them organize and process information without getting upset.

However, children often end up in the doctor’s office for medication, when it is a behavioral or communication issue.

Let say you and your partner are inconsistent and give mixed messages to your child, especially during homework time, or you may become frustrated and yell at your child during homework time and now when they do school work they are fearful of your response and they shutdown.

Or perhaps your child has learned behaviors to manipulate and get out of school work that they don’t want to do (at school and at home). Maybe they are embarrassed to ask for help in school when they don’t understand, so it’s easier to act out. You may find that your child is focused and on-task in the afternoon class after recess, and cannot concentrate and gets into trouble daily in the class just before lunch.

Some parents want their child to focus and do homework right after school, but if your child has been at a desk all day they may want to run around or play with their toys/electronics, and it may be too difficult to focus on homework right then.

There are so many different variables in determining if it is a behavioral or communication issue, and if medication is right for your child.  Here’s what you can do as a parent to help make an informed decision.

  • Talk with each of your child’s teachers and find out how often the problem occurs, when, and with whom. Find out what are the consequences when they exhibit that behavior (you may find they are getting their needs met, such as getting more attention or 1:1 time).
  • Talk with other people who work with your child. Ask coaches, tutors, lesson teachers what behaviors that they see.
  • Observe your child with their peers, what behaviors do you notice?
  • Track the behaviors at home, when do they occur, how often, how intense are they, what was your child doing when it occurred, who else was there?
  • Track your and your partner’s/spouse’s (if applicable) responses before and after your child’s behaviors occur. What were you doing/saying, how did you react?

When you seek out help for your child you have a very clear picture of what’s happening, where and when. If the issues are communication or behavioral related a psychologist or therapist can help you and your child develop new coping strategies. If the issues are medical issues, this information will help your pediatrician or psychiatrist diagnose and find the right medication for your child. If you are unsure whether it is a medical related or behavioral/communication issue (or perhaps all three) set-up a consultation with a therapist or psychologist who specialize in working with children and families.

Whether or not you choose medication, there has been research on the benefits of therapy and the National Institute of Mental Health notes some disorders can be treated effectively through therapy alone. If you are in the Sarasota, Lakewood ranch, Bradenton, Venice Florida area and you would like more support 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 and implement to help your child.

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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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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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Do You Rescue Your Child?

September 20th, 2011

How much support does your child need?

If you have a relationship of any kind, with a spouse, friend, parent, or child, then you have encountered someone else making a decision you would never dream of doing. There is pain seeing that person making a choice your know in your heart is just not the “right” decision for them. Ironically, the closer we are to the person, the more we believe we know what’s right for them, and often we will make comments or demands upon them, based upon our knowing what’s best.

We would never dream of telling our co-worker what they are wearing is wrong and they should change, yet it becomes almost a duty to be hypercritical about what our spouse or children are wearing or doing. Often when tasks that are delegated to those in the household are not completed, we jump in to do it.  Heaven forbid your child wear wrinkled clothes to school because they left their laundry on the floor.

Most parents who rescue fear what others might think or that things won’t get done exactly right, or if they don’t control the situation their child may fail or get hurt.  Most people rescue because they love those around them and they don’t want to see them hurt. However, rescuing sets up a whole new set of problems.  The person you rescue doesn’t get to learn from their actions.  They don’t learn how to self-correct, or make changes when they are off course, since they have had someone doing that for them.  They don’t learn how to overcome obstacles and when they do arise (and they always do) they are unprepared.  I’ve had many young adults in my office who just didn’t know how to handle tough stuff because their parents did it for them when they were growing up.

The question that most people ask is how do they know when to intervene.  The first question to ask, is it a safety issue? Meaning if you don’t intervene will someone get hurt physically?  If it is a safety issue, step in and set a boundary.  All other issues are not black and white. I love to challenging parents to talk out the choices and consequences with their children. For tasks such as homework and household chores personal accountability works wonders.  Have a neutral discussion (without getting emotional about the topic) and develop a contract to help identify what will be done and what are the consequences. Contracts do work, when they are done right, meaning they are respectful of each person’s needs and there is an incentive to change for both parties.

For things such as bullying at school or children who are having emotional problems a more supportive role is necessary.  Parents often step in too early and attempt to stop bullying, which may cause more social problems for their children.  Brainstorm with your child solutions, allow them to test some out before you become involved.  If things continue to be a problem and it becomes a psychological safety issue, there may be a need for more direct involvement.

Encourage your child to take part in choosing their consequences; if they have done something wrong, ask them to come up with the consequences. You’ll be amazed at how they will learn from this, with less tantrums and more personal accountability.

Here’s the important part to remember, those who rescue others become resentful.  They will do, and do, and do, and then finally get upset that everyone treats them disrespectfully and takes advantage of them.  Stop the cycle of rescuing so you don’t fall into this pattern, and you allow others an opportunity to learn.

Here’s a creative activity to help you identify times when you rescue.  Take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.  On the left side write the word rescue and on the right side write the word support.  Fill in the page with images and words of times when you rescue (what you say and do) and what it might look like if you supported that person instead.

When you become aware of your tendencies to rescue then you can choose other ways you can support your child and other family members.  If you or your child is in need of more support we can help. Click here to schedule your complimentary support consultation.

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