Posts Tagged ‘child therapy bradenton’

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.


My good kid has gone bad

February 6th, 2012

What happens when a good kid starts to show some bad behaviors?

Your child or a child you work with all of sudden starts to act out in ways you haven’t seen before. Maybe it’s a refusal to listen, difficulties with peers, acting out or being aggressive, shutting down and saying, “whatever”. You notice they have begun to have an attitude, maybe they are getting in trouble, or perhaps their teacher is worried.  It seems sudden and a bit random and you aren’t sure what’s going on.

Here are 5 ways you can use art and creativity to understand a child’s negative behaviors and teach your child some tools to manage their behaviors.

1.     Use art as a self-calming and self- soothing tool. Before your child becomes so overwhelmed and acts out or shuts down bring in some art activities. Choose art materials that are calming such as chalk pastels, markers, or modeling clay. Have a basket of calming activities to choose from and take an art break before your child loses control of their emotions. As a parent or teacher you want to notice what triggers your child and redirect behaviors before they become full blown meltdowns or shutdowns.

2.     Use art to understand your child’s point of view. You may think that things at school are just fine, but your child may not feel that way at all. Sometimes children have a hard time identifying or articulating what’s bothering them. Use piece of paper and markers or crayons and ask your child to draw a picture of their classroom; then ask them to tell you what they created and listen. You may learn about stressors and triggers that upset your child. Make sure you fully listen without trying to jump in and problem solve.

3.     Use art to understand your child’s perception of home. Ask your child to create a picture of your family together. You’ll learn about your child’s point of view of your family when you listen without interruption as your child shares what they created. This is a touchy topic for many parents. Be aware of your response. If your child explains things that you feel are “not true” be aware of how this triggers you and what your initial response is.  Your child will have a difficult time safely expressing their feelings if you become upset when they share. Be open, curious, and ask questions help you understand.

4.     Use art to solve the problem. If your child identifies problems at home or at school (if age appropriate) ask your child to make an image of what they could do about that problem. Remember that you are encouraging your child to express themselves, therefore, they may create a silly or “inappropriate” solution. Don’t lecture. Let them know that’s an option and ask them about other options they could choose, and come up with a bunch. At the end of exploring options together discuss the consequences of each option by asking questions such as, what would happen if you did that?

5.     Use art as a way to teach positive social behaviors. Sometimes a child has a hard time getting along with their peers and siblings. You can use art to sneak in teaching positive ways to behave socially. Set up some play rules and have the children/siblings work together on a common goal, such as building or drawing something. When problems arise, point out the rules and use it as a teaching opportunity. Use the experience to help identify and label feelings and work together to create solutions. Children will learn socially appropriate behaviors while having fun.

Got a child who quickly goes from happy to meltdowns in less that the count of 5? Then it’s time to teach them new coping tools to help them become aware of their emotions and behaviors. 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.

P.S.- CQ disclaimer: The CQ believes that there’s no such thing as a BAD child, just BAD behaviors and these tools can help.


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.


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.


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.