Posts Tagged ‘children’

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.

Share

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.

Share

3 Tips To Help Your Child Transition Back to School

August 31st, 2011

If you live in Florida then you know what time of year this is, back to school!  Even if you don’t have children or your children are grown, there is a shift that occurs as Fall arrives.  There is a bit of anticipation, a sense of something about to occur, a quickening of pace.  For many of us as fall arrives our schedule fills and we are on the go with little time to slow down and reflect.

No matter what age you are these easy tips will help make the most of your transition into Fall.  So here are some things to think about before your schedule gets too full with Fall busyness:

1.    What do I value?
What is really important to you or your family?  Take a moment and name the one thing that is the foundation of your values. Put this word or statement on a sticky note and post it somewhere important (i.e. desk, mirror, refrigerator).  Whenever you are running about feeling overwhelmed stop and think, what is my value and are my actions and choices reflecting my core value?

2.    Get back on schedule!
In the Summer there is a joyous loosening of our schedules.  Perhaps the bedtimes are later, the family visits more frequent, there is more time to spend enjoying each other’s company.  Of course that does not have to disappear when Fall arrives.  Remember that consistency and schedules give children and families boundaries that make the family function and also provide a sense of order and safety. Start preparing for back to school schedules now so there will be fewer arguments when the alarm clock rings for school.  Even for adults there is something soothing about a schedule. So if you are off schedule plan a few daily rituals (walking the dog in the morning or reading time at bed) to create order in your life.

3.    Give yourself a break!
There is so much running around that we do in our lives.  Give yourself permission to take a break, to decidedly not do something without guilt or remorse.  This may be as little of a break as choosing not to exercise today, or deciding that you want to cancel morning appointments and sleep in, or that you will sit by the pool and read when you should be doing the bills.  Take a break; revel in the fact that you chose it consciously. No need to worry, there will be things to do later, but for right now a nap seems just right.

Try these tips and see how they work for you.  You may find that giving yourself a pause or getting back on schedule helps you to clearly identify what it is you value. When you have a better idea of what is important to you and your family you might choose to spend less time running around during the transition of Fall doing all the things you think you should do, and more time doing what feels right for you.

Need some more support to help your child be successful? Schedule a complimentary Support Consultation by clicking here!

Share

Got An Out of Control Child? These 7 Tips Will Help Your Child

August 22nd, 2011

Are you worried about your child’s behaviors in public, are you tired of hearing negative comments about your child’s behaviors from family, friends, and teachers, does your stomach sink and you feel totally embarrassed when your child or teen starts to act out in public?

It seems rather crazy that restaurants, airlines, and public spaces would restrict children; isn’t that how children practice learning social expectations and rules? As an art therapist in private practice I see many families whose children have gotten out of control with their meltdowns and tantrums. These children act out in public spaces leaving parents feeling helpless, worried, and often walking on eggshells fearful of the next time their child will have an emotional outburst.

Here’s the thing, there may be something going on with your child that warrants additional support. Your child may have anxiety, explosive anger or mood disorder; or it may be something much more simple than that. It may be that your child has not learned ways to manage their behaviors and emotions.

Here are 7 tips to help your child manage their out of control behaviors.

1. You are the parent and your child is looking for you to set the rules and boundaries of what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. As a parent it’s your job to provide feedback to help your child become aware of their behaviors, and to offer your child support to help them connect and modify behaviors. Children learn from your actions and behaviors, so get crystal clear on what’s okay behavior and what is not.

2. Acknowledge their feelings. Often children are acting out because they are upset, bored, annoyed, nervous, mad, sad, excited, hungry, tired (among other feelings, needs, and wants). By identifying your child’s feelings and behaviors your child will become more aware of their own feeling, behaviors, and wants. For example a child who is clinging to you and interrupting you as you speak you can acknowledge their behaviors and feelings, “ I can tell you want my attention now, and what you have to say is very important, when I am done speaking then I can listen to what you have to say”.

3. Let your child know when they are acting inappropriately. When you notice the negative behaviors it’s time step in and let your child know what is expected. Be clear, direct, and assertive without becoming angry and aggressive. For example, “The sofa is not for jumping, please stop”.

4. Allow your child to self-correct. If it is not a safety issue give your child an opportunity to hear what you have requested. You may need to step closer, look into their eyes, put a hand on their shoulder, or meet them at eye level and state what it is that you want them to do, then give them a few seconds to process what is being requested.

5. If your child continues to act and disregard your request, it is time to step into your parenting authority. In a calm manner let your child know what the consequences of their behaviors will be if they do not stop. Do this is as calmly as possible. Recent studies in brain-based research suggest we mirror the emotional responses of those we are connecting with. Unconsciously (and at times consciously) children want you to be as upset as they are. By staying calm and in your parenting authority you unplug power struggles and help your child regulate their feelings and behaviors. By getting upset you fuel their emotional outbursts further.

6. Consequences need to be immediate and meaningful, and you need to follow-though. Here’s the tricky part for most parents, they may become so upset at their child’s behaviors that they make a threat that is unrealistic, like taking away the TV for a month. Then when parents are calm they realize it may be difficult to monitor the consequence, and they decide to lessen the consequences or never follow-through. Children are very aware and learn by your behaviors. When you do not follow-through on consequences they realize that your consequences are not to be taken seriously, and they disregard your requests.

7. If your child needs more support in helping them to change their behaviors then you can help by developing a positive rewards system for younger children and a behavior contract for tweens and teens. I have witnessed children make dramatic transformations in their behaviors with these strategies, and I‘ve seen these strategies flop. What makes these behavior agreements work is when parents and children both are invested and the goals are realistic and achievable.

I recommend these 7 tips to the families I work with and support them to create their own individualized strategies to best support their child to get back in control of their behaviors. If you are concerned about your child’s behaviors try these strategies and if your child continues to struggle, seek out support.

If you would like more tools and strategies to help your child join me, Dr. Laura Dessauer (the Creativity Queen), on the YourTango Facebook Fan Page Thursday, Aug 25th at 2:00pm EST. I’ll be taking over the page and answering your questions to best help your child. We’ll be talking about heading back to school, bad behaviors, tantrums, shutdowns and meltdowns, what to do if you have a child when needs extra support and lots more. I’m looking forward to sharing valuable insider tools that will help your child and family positively communicate and connect!

Share

Teaching Responsibility: Help your child make & keep goals for the school year

August 15th, 2011

Got a child heading back to school and you want to help your child become responsible and accountable for the school year? Help your child create goals for the school year and provide your child with creative tools to be successful.

Here are some creative ways to help your child articulate and track their academic goals:

Ask your child to create an image (or use magazine collage) and ask them to make artwork representing their school goals. You can make it easier to define by taking a circle and filling in different sections for different goals they are striving to achieve.

For example inside of a circle they would section off each piece of the pie and create images and words inside of that section that represent their specific goals. Areas could include academics (a slice of the pie for each subject) friendships, social activities, and sports.

Another way to keep track of goals would involve creating an altered book by recycling an old book and creating a scrapbook of images and words representing the different goals your child is working towards. You can use an old out of print textbook, vintage yearbook, old children’s book, or visit a used bookstore. Cover the pages with paint and then use magazine collage to decorate the pages. Visit the craft store for additional scrapbook embellishments to personalize your child’s goal book.

The benefits of creating a personalized image or book of your child’s goals allows your child to create what a successful academic year would look like for them, holds them accountable for what they are creating (rather than you nagging them), and allows them an opportunity to reflect back at the end of the year on what they accomplished, and what they could improve upon. Plus it’s really fun to have a book or image of the year they created.

Need some more support to help your child be successful? Schedule a complimentary Child Support Consultation by clicking here!

Share

Want to Help Your Child get a Good Night’s Sleep? Here’s What I Learned From Molly’s Science Fair Project

August 11th, 2011

Guest Article by Candace Vorhaus

Our very cute yorkiepoo, Ollie, has no problem sleeping and for the rest of our four-person, two teenager family, sleep comes at a premium.  As a Feng Shui consultant, interior designer and spiritual coach, I know the importance of deep and restful sleep.  Whether in my home or traveling, my nightly intention is ending the day in a comfortable bed, feeling completely relaxed, free from my worries and cares, and for at least seven to eight hours, peacefully drifting into a place of deep and restorative sleep.  My goal is waking in the morning visualizing every DNA strand, cell, and fiber of my body and soul are rested, restored, renewed, rejuvenated, and remade for another day of work, fun, and family.

We also value sleep as a precious commodity in our home.  Conversations often revolve around getting more sleep, bed times, and how to improve the quality of our sleep.  So, I shouldn’t have been surprised (although I was) when my thirteen-year-old daughter, Molly, chose me as her sleep-guinea pig for her seventh-grade science fair project, “How Light Affects Your Brain’s Sleep Patterns?”

Molly’s results interested me.  The first test night I read for a half hour in soft lighting before turning off the light and my sleep was a typical light sleep that provided me with enough rest to function, although I still awoke tired.

The second test night I worked on my computer right up until I got into bed and I slept terribly, getting barely four hours sleep.  The third and last test night, Molly made me go to bed a half hour earlier than I normally do.  We turned off the lights and lay in the dark chatting girl talk, followed by quiet time.   I was out within 15 minutes, and slept better than I had in recent memory, arising feeling refreshed, positive and excited to start my day.

Molly’s conclusion, and I agree, are that both the computer’s stimulation and Electromagnetic Fields, or EMFs, negatively affected my sleep, and that quiet, low-light, and loving connections improved my sleep.  To learn more, visit the National Sleep Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping American’s get a better night’s sleep, http://www.sleepfoundation.org/.

In addition to getting cozy with Molly, Feng Shui is my solution for a good night’s sleep.

Feng Shui, modernized for the way we live in the Western world, is the 4000 year old science and transcendental art of aligning your goals, intentions and desires with the energies of your immediate environment, including your home, business, landscape and community.  What’s happening in your environment is connected to what’s happening with your relationships, money situation, career, health, the people you attract into your life, and your sleep patterns.  The patterns in your home and office mirror the patterns in your life.  Change the patterns, change your life and sleep better.

There are many Feng Shui “cures” or remedies for sleep.  Feng Shui is both intuitive and intentional.  So, if you really want a good night’s sleep, take off your shoes and get into your bed and look around.  What do you see?

A major problem I often see with clients having trouble sleeping is clutter both under and around their bed.  To sleep peacefully, the energy needs to flow smoothly around you.  If there is clutter or stored items under your bed, then the flow of energy is blocked.   This can lead to feelings of being stuck or stagnant.

Books or items around your bed that remind you of work will also affect your sleep.  To help relax, remove these items from the bedroom before going to sleep.  Instead of that pile of books, bills, and blackberry, add a vase of fresh flowers or healthy green plant to enhance your bedroom.  Also try placing a pleasing, restful picture directly across from the bed.

In our home, TVs and computers are not permitted in the bedroom, and I suggest to my clients (including my blackberry addicted husband, Robbie) moving the clock radio, cell phone and blackberry at least eight feet away from where you sleep.   Many clients like to fall asleep to the TV, but this can be disruptive to your own life force, causing a poor quality sleep.  I also recommend finishing all meals at least two hours before bedtime and limiting alcohol consumption, which also disrupts sleep patterns.

Last step.  Just prior to sleep, I advise my clients to practice some form of prayer or meditation.   You can visualize you’re in a peaceful place like a beach in Hawaii, on your favorite mountaintop, or in a beautiful garden.  You can also visualize your body filled with light and that healing energy is circulating throughout every cell in your body, calming and bringing each cell and system into alignment.

Success Summary:

  • When you can, reduce the use of all EMFs and visual stimulation, including TV and computers, at least one half hour before bed.
  • Clear the clutter from under and around your bed that can block restful energy and make you feel stuck or stagnant.
  • Try to get to bed a half-hour early at least once a week.
  • Make a loving, kind, or compassionate connection just prior to sleep.
  • Practice a mind-calming meditation or prayer just prior to sleep.
  • Have pleasing and uplifting art or restful nature scenes in your bedroom.

What have you found that improves the quality of your sleep?

About Candace:

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.  Click here to receive your complimentary download of a map to the spirit of your space, a Feng Shui Ba Gua: www.candacevorhaus.com

Share

Art in therapy: Why children use art naturally in child therapy

August 1st, 2011

Why is art therapy and the creative process something that children naturally want to engage in? What’s the reason we create, and why do we all have an urge to express ourselves?

You may not believe you are creative, but if you look at your daily activities, there are creative ways you express yourself and you may not even be aware. These creative activities may involve the love of making a delicious meal from scratch, tending to a garden, decorating your home, designing spreadsheets to keep track of your activities, creating innovative systems, planning a getaway excursion, or enjoying the delight of singing or dancing (among other creative pursuits).

The author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a pioneer in positive psychology and author of the book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention writes about creative process called “flow”. Flow occurs when we are engaged in a creative activity where we engage in the process of performing a task, immersed in the feeling of focus and full engagement (often leading to sense of losing track of time). He explored what makes life worth living and how when we engage our creativity we achieve a sense of satisfaction and pleasure.

Cathy Malchiodi, art therapy pioneer examines the question in  Psychology Today ,  exploring what is art for, and why do we engage in the creative process across the globe and throughout the ages.

Both authors note the inherent need for creativity as a means of connection, pleasure, engagement, transcendence, and self-expression. Naturally, children gravitate to creative activities for play, processing ideas, developing mastery, pure pleasure and delight of exploration and expression. So it makes sense when a child is in therapy and they are naturally drawn to the art materials, toys, and creative activities where they can express themselves. Therapy can be a daunting experience, regardless of your age, and for children coming to therapy art provides a way to easily engage the child, and this expands across economic strata and cultural differences. As adults we can learn much from children’s  natural expression of their creativity and easy engagement in the process of “flow”.

Want to connect with your creative flow? Try a new class, take a dance class or exercise class, join the swim group, explore a watercolor class, gardening class, writing class, photography class, or cooking class. Whatever you enjoy spend an afternoon immersed in exploring, dive into the creative process further and then journal about what you discovered about yourself and the process.

Share

Got an anxious child? Here’s a creative solution to reduce anxiety, stress, worry, and fear

July 26th, 2011

Stress, worries, anxiety, fear- it’s all part of life. Yet, if your child is 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 your child 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 may internalize their feelings and not get the attention that a child whom is acting out gets. However, this internalization may lead to feeling of inadequacy, self-criticism, and may trigger addictive and self-harming behavior.

Children who are anxious can learn to develop skills to self-soothe and regulate their emotional state. Providing your child with an opportunity to learn some new strategies in a way that is aligned with their natural learning process is the easiest way to help your child develop coping strategies that they will actually use.

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. If there is a certain situation (like homework) 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 biological based strategies we teach in our Comprehensive Family Support Program to help your child reduce the physiological impacts of anxiety (such as increased heart rate, panic attacks). Even if your child has normal worries this fun and creative program will give your child some cognitive and behavioral tools to tackle worries when they arise!

Share

How to help your child (and yourself) when problems arise

July 21st, 2011

I had an amazing and inspiring story told to me and I wanted to share it with you. If you have ever experienced a challenge or a setback you may have found yourself overwhelmed and confused. As a parent if you have seen your child encounter an obstacle you may have watched as they fell part emotionally trying to figure it out. We all deal with things in a different way; there is no right (or wrong) way to feel when we encounter adversity, however we have a choice what to do in these situations. A mom I know shared with me her daughter’s story and they gave me permission to share it with you.

The mom noted her daughter, “had a huge bombshell yesterday morning, and will be resolving the issue over the next week.  The college she was attending didn’t announce which majors they were dropping until yesterday, and she found out that hers is being dropped.  She would have 2 years to complete it, but that can’t be done.  She had it all mapped out already, and knows that she needs 5 semesters.  At first she was pretty upset, but she rebounded quickly.  Her choice is changing her major or transferring.  There are less than 100 schools that offer the major in the country, and all would be quite costly.  Within a few hours she found a related major that should work with what she already has taken, and will let her pursue the same field.  Her last comment was that maybe it will actually open more doors that I don’t even know about yet”.  The mom remarked, “I was amazed at the resiliency she had, because she has been so focused in her studies”!

What can we all learn from this remarkable story of graceful resilience? That we all encounter obstacles in life and we are the ones who choose what we decide to do with our experiences. As parents you can allow your child to learn and grow from their experiences. Protecting them from scrapes and tears will not serve them in the long run and sometimes adversity shows us just how remarkable we truly are!

Share

Summer Camp Success

July 18th, 2011

Many parents are worried about their child going away to summer camp; especially if it is the first time, your child is upset and they don’t want to go, or you are concerned because your child has a difficult time with friendships.

There are many benefits to camp and there are ways to help your child so they have a successful summer camp experience.

Summer camp benefits include:

Mastering new skills, developing friendships, learning to get along with other children, a sense of self-confidence as they encounter new experiences and learn how to negotiate differences and overcome difficulties they experience. Children learn how to follow rules and norms, adjust and modify their behaviors to fit in with the social expectations, and adapt to new circumstances (many of the skills necessary to be successful as an adult).

There is an alchemy that happens at camp. As a parent you may ask your child to wake up and do chores at home and your child may be resistant and defiant. Whereas, at camp the collective group is awake and doing the scheduled activities, regardless if your child “likes” the activities. There is a powerful social expectation at camp, and children tend to respond favorably to the requests of a counselor. Often the behaviors seen at home, such as whining and defiance, are reduced at camp or in other social situations. When I’ve asked children about this they responded that the consequences at home are different than at school or camp (or that their parent’s say will do something but never follow through). Children have told me that don’t want to be embarrassed, and would act they way they do home while at camp or school.

So if you are concerned about your child adjusting to camp, they may actually excel at camp and get along better than they would at home with their sibling.

Here are some tips to help your child have summer camp success:

  • Is it your child’s first summer camp experience? Start your child at local summer camps. You can choose a camp for a few hours a day or a full day program. Choose a camp with activities that they enjoy and they are excited about.
  • Visit the website and show your child what camp looks like and the activities they will be doing. Visit the location if necessary, and introduce your child to the staff to help with the transition.
  • If your child has special needs or you are worried about their behavior at camp, talk with the staff. Many parents worry that the camp staff will treat their child differently if they mention their child needs additional support. Be upfront about your child’s needs to ensure that the camp is a good match for your child. For example, if your child has ADHD, make sure the staff knows how to work with a child who is a hands-on active learner. The more information the camp staff have, the more they can appropriately support your child’s success, and if the camp is not a good match it is better to know that information before your child attends a program that is not suitable.
  • If your child is hesitant to go to a day camp, have them sign-up with a sibling or attend a camp with a friend. You can also volunteer for a few hours until your child becomes acclimated to the new environment.
  • Ready for an overnight camp? Pick one that offers activities your child loves, such as horseback riding camp or art camp. If your child is a reluctant camper choose a camp closer to home and go for a visit before the start of camp. Again, you can choose a camp that a friend or sibling is attending if your child is worried about going to a new place.
  • You can help your child heading off to camp cope with the transition and  make friends with these creative way to get ready for  summer camp https://thecreativityqueen.com/summercampideas
  • Are you looking for summer programs for children in Sarasota, Bradenton, and Lakewood Ranch FL? Click here to find out more: https://thecreativityqueen.com/summer-programs-for-children-sarasota-fl

To help your child be successful at summer camp you must take into consideration your child’s unique needs and interests. If you are concerned about your child going to camp and you worry that they have a difficult time separating from you, they are anxious and overwhelmed in new situations, we can help. We have programs to help your child feel more confident and develop creative skills to manage worries, anxiety, and new situations. Click here to learn more>

Share