Posts Tagged ‘help my child’

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

February 19th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CQ Playful Creative Activity:           

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

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

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

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

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How do I know if my child needs to go to therapy?

June 22nd, 2011

Parents, do you sometimes wonder, does my child need help? Should I take them to therapy? I worry about my child being diagnosed, labeled or medicated.

So here are some signs that your child may be in need of additional support:

  • Your child acts out and become really angry or upset when things don’t go their way, everything is power struggle and it seems like the littlest thing sets them off
  • Your child gets really quiet and disconnected when they feel overwhelmed and stressed out; you’re feeling powerless to help them and you are wondering if they are okay
  • Your child worries about school or friends, they don’t quite “fit  in” socially or you’re worried about their choices and friends, and you’re not sure if it is normal
  • It is a battle to get your child to do homework or chores; you’ve asked them 100′s of times to pick up their things, they just tune you out, and it’s starting to impact your relationship because you find yourself yelling, nagging and complaining
  • Your child gets into arguments at home with you and their siblings and even the littlest things can blow up into a tantrum, or they withdraw into silence and their room
  • You are noticing that they have changed, maybe they’ve begun lying to you or keeping information from you, or things are becoming a power struggle
  • You are concerned that something else may be going on with your child, your child’s teachers or other family members have brought up concerns and you’ve noticed your child struggling and you are worried this may not be normal
  • Your child is anxious, stressed out, overwhelmed, or is having a difficult time coping with loss or changes. You may notice an increase in acting out or withdrawing behaviors as your child attempts to cope

Parents worry that if their child is diagnosed then it may impact their child in the future, such as education and career choices. So what can a concerned parent do?

If your child is having social, developmental, behavioral or relationship problems ask for support from an expert. You can choose to work with a therapist or doctor who provides services and you pay them directly. When you use your medical insurance for therapy or other medical services it is necessary to diagnose your child and their condition must be deemed “medically necessary” for insurance to reimburse you or your health care provider. Meaning, your child will receive a diagnosis to receive support, even if it is typical “adjustment issues”.  If you do not want your child diagnosed talk with your health care provider to see what other options there are to provide your child service without a label.

Here’s when it would be beneficial to receive a diagnosis for your child, when the difficulties they are experiencing are significantly impacting their functioning and a doctor or clinician assesses that medication may be a treatment option, or your child is in need of academic support services that can be covered by the school district if they are evaluated and determined to be in need of these services.

Not sure if your child’s behaviors are normal development or something more?

Seek out assistance from a professional. Based upon your observations and your child’s behaviors (and often times the school’s feedback) a skilled clinician can help you explore support options for your child.

An informed parent is an empowered parent, so ask questions and most of all, “Trust yourself. You know more that you think you do” (The great pediatrician: Dr. Benjamin Spock).

Need some additional help? We do not diagnose your child to give them the support they need. Often when children learn new cognitive and behaviors tools and the parents learn new ways to communicate the problems diminish. We work to rule out if the problems are environmentally based and/or behaviorally based. If additional support is necessary we provide families a comprehensive list of other evaluation options, all while respecting your decisions on how you best choose to support your child.

Click here to schedule a Complimentary Child Support Consultation to learn more>> www.thecreativityqueen.com/schedule

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Help Your Child Communicate :Tips for Positive Communication for Busy Families

June 17th, 2011

Is your family swamped by too many things on the to do list, leaving little time for deep connections with those in your family? Maybe you’ve seen your child become upset and overwhelmed, but you’re so depleted and rushed there is little time to understand what your child is really feeling? If children do not feel heard and validated they will express their feelings in other unhealthy ways, leading to possible behavior and emotional problems. That means your child may have tantrums, act out, shutdown, or meltdown as an attempt to express their needs. Healthy communication is essential in all relationships and these three tips will help your child positively communicate.

So what’s a busy parent to do? STOP, LISTEN, and VALIDATE (kinda like stop, drop and roll).

1. When your child is starting to become upset, they give signals. As a parent you know that they are getting upset, and sometimes you’ve got to go and can’t always attend to what they are feeling. However, if you take a few seconds and STOP you can shift the reactive response that is brewing within your child. It takes more time to try to get your child back on track after they have a meltdown than it does to STOP. Stopping allows you to step into your parenting power so you’re not responding from a reactive frazzled state. Stopping allows your child an opportunity to self-regulate, so they can learn how to get back in control of their behaviors. Stopping allows you to be present, loving, and open to hearing and seeing what’s really happening with your child; so you can help them express their feelings and they learn other ways to communicate, rather than being reactive.

2. When you stop you can be fully present to LISTEN and hear what their needs are. They may need to express thoughts and feelings that are not related to what’s on your agenda. When you model being flexible your child will also learn flexibility. You have to decide what’s important: is it teaching your child a positive way to communicate their needs or is it that they learn how to “jump to it” and be on time so that others are not upset? I know this is a polarized example, but I want you to think about what you are emphasizing as important values for your child. Listening and really hearing your child takes only a few minutes, yet the importance of this leads to health sense of self, learning positive communication skills, and respect (which all parents want their child to learn).

3. VALIDATING means you recognize what your child may be feeling and thinking. It’s not necessary to problem solve for them, tell them what is wrong or bad, or that you don’t condone what they are saying. It just means that you get their point of view and deeply understand their feelings. When kids are being reactive they are operating from FEAR and CONTROL. Validating their feelings allows a child to feel emotionally safer and acts as a re-set button on their feelings. When you give your child your full attention and validate their feelings, they feel understood (which often reduced meltdowns and tantrums).

Here’s a creative activity to help your child through this process. If you notice your child is about to lose control of their feelings ask them to tell you what they are feeling. If they are unable to do so or they are overwhelmed ask them to go to a quite place and make a picture of what that feeling looks like, such as, Can you make a picture of how mad you are? If your child chooses to share the picture with you do not make corrections or tell them they shouldn’t feel that way. Listen to them and validate their feelings.

Model this and your child will have a set of skills that will lead to life long success!

Are you in need of support to help your child manage their behaviors and feelings? We can help! Click here to schedule your Complementary Child Support Consultation>>www.thecreativityqueen.com/schedule

This article has appeared in YourTango

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Art Therapy: Using Art as A Tool to Help Your Child

June 9th, 2011

Sarah was an unforgettable girl. She was a tall lanky teenager with as many piercings on her face as freckles. She was a student in an alternative high school where I worked. I can still picture Sarah today in her baggy pants, ripped clothes and colored hair. She was one of those students who wore her anger and sadness like a badge.

Everyone knew Sarah had a rough time. She had even threatened to kill herself a year earlier. The clothes and the personal history made it easy for Sarah to be left alone, and she said that’s what she wanted.

A natural artist and freethinker, Sarah was recommended for art therapy by a concerned teacher. She strolled into our first session, unloaded her books and grabbed some clay. Quietly she molded the clay. For the first month we sat mostly in silence as she formed the clay into angry mask-like faces. I accepted what she gave me unconditionally, knowing there was more to Sarah than angry masks. I waited for weeks until the time was right. I asked Sarah, “What’s behind the mask?…If you took away the angry mask what would there be?” Sarah sat quietly looking at her clay. A long pause, a sigh, her brown eyes rimmed with tears, “ I don’t know”. Our journey together had begun.

Sarah, like many kids I’ve worked with over the years, embraced art. Even with so many let downs and mixed emotions, she was able to let go and risk show who she was through her artistic creations. I witnessed Sarah bloom from lost teen to graduating Senior. Her artwork changed too. From dark pictures and angry masks to bright colored painting she proudly gave to friends and family. She had finally found a way to give of herself and to be accepted.

Years later I got a phone call. Sarah wanted to meet for lunch. That day I walked in to see the butterfly Sarah had become. Her face was glowing. She looked so happy and healthy. Her pink outfit mirrored her wonderful transformation from anger to acceptance.

We ate, laughed, listened, and knew silently that we were part of a journey that had brought us to this place. I felt grateful to have witnessed Sarah’s transformations.

Art Therapists working with children share the hopes of all parents. Our goal is to help children discover their inner beauty and potential. For many people, this journey to self-acceptance requires special support.

I saw Sarah again several years later. She was visiting home briefly and had changed schools. She was going to study counseling. She told me she was going to make a difference in somebody’s life. I nodded and smiled, knowing that she already had.

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Why developing self-esteem in children may be overrated, seriously?!

May 4th, 2011

I came across a study recently on self-compassion, and how people who are more compassionate with themselves have less depression, anxiety, and tend to be more resilient, optimistic, and happier. So it got me thinking about how we encourage self-esteem in children, yet we don’t spend as much time and energy on cultivating self-compassion.

What does it mean to be self-compassionate and how can we teach children how to become more compassionate?

Adams and Leary (2007) define self-compassion as the ability to react with self-kindness and understanding when encountering difficult situations. In addition, self-compassion involves mindfulness of nonjudgmental awareness, and acceptance of one’s common humanity and understanding that they are part of a larger experience, and that others too share the common experience of difficult situations and emotions. Those who exhibit higher traits of self- compassion are less extreme in their reactions and fixate less on problems than those who exhibit lower self-compassion.

Although self-esteem (feeling good about one’s self and maintaining a positive self view) is related to self-compassion, it has been noted in research that when experiencing negative events a self-compassionate mindset may be more beneficial than high self-esteem.

As a child there are days when you get picked on, forget your homework, get totally embarrassed by a friend or a teacher. Encouraging self-compassion in children reduces negative emotions and increases personal responsibility for an undesired situation, whereby a child realizes their mistakes, without being overwhelmed by negative emotions. In doing so they are less likely to melt down or shut down or avoid feelings or circumstances in the future, and are likely to increase their ability to self-regulate their emotions and behaviors.

So how can you help your child increase their self-compassion?

Give them an opportunity to process the experience through play or art. Children often will explore their emotions and feelings through art and creative play (yes, even teens). Before you try to have a talk with your child allow them some space to understand and explore the experience of what happened. Provide them with a favorite creative activity, such as drawing or building with legos, or give them some quite time in their room.

  • Model compassionate self-talk. If your child is struggling with a situation or problem let them express what they are feeling. If you find they are becoming negative and self-blaming acknowledge their feelings (“yes, I understand you are mad”…) then encourage your child to be compassionate in how they talk to himself or herself (“everyone has a bad day, today was a difficult one, tomorrow will be different”).
  • Encourage flexible thinking. Children who are at a younger developmental level will often think that things are ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’, meaning they made a mistake then they believe they are bad. This black and white thinking may keep your child stuck perseverating that they are “not good enough” or “there is something wrong with them”. Acknowledge the situation and then encourage all the different ways your child could have handled the situation or can cope with it next time. Be playful and allow for divergent creative thinking and downright silly ideas.
  • Ask them what they would they say if it happened to a friend. This gives your child some distance from the problem and allows them the opportunity for awareness and kindness.
  • Consider Consequences. Parents often struggle with consequences and worry about too few consequences or too many consequences. Criticism and discipline from an authoritarian “my way or the high way”  style parenting will impact your child’s development of self-compassion; whereas an authoritative parenting style provides structure, support, guidance and feedback while helping your child resolve the issue.

Notice how you model your behaviors. Children naturally mimic the adults in their lives, so be aware of the messages you send when you make a mistake or encounter a problem. Modeling self-compassion is the best gift to give yourself and your child too.

Do you need more help for your child? Schedule a complimentary Child Support Consultation by clicking here

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