Posts Tagged ‘school’

Ease back to school anxiety

August 23rd, 2012

As a parent or professional you can’t help but hear these words everywhere you turn- It’s back to school time. It’s everywhere, from the ads with dancing kids in their new school clothes to the reminders to pick up school supplies. If you’re a child who likes learning or likes going to school, then it’s an exciting time of year. For other children who struggle with academics, worry about “mean kids”, or easily get overwhelmed and stressed, it can be a very difficult time of the year.

There are so many feelings associated with this time of the year: excitement (about seeing friends) worry, (will the new teacher be “nice”), fear (will I have to sit next to the boy who picks on me again this year), dread (I heard that you get lots of hard homework in 4th grade, what if I can’t do it).

So if your child starts to change their behaviors as they head back to school, realize they may have a difficult time expressing their worry, anxiety excitement, and fear.

Here are 3 creative ways you can help your child positively express their back to school anxiety:

  1. Get artistic with the worries: Recycle an old book or get a blank journal to make an art journal. Use magazines and make a collage cover for the book. Cut out words and images of all the back to school worries, everything from anxiety about “mean kids” to worries about where you’ll sit during lunch time. Glue the images or use decoupage (or cover with clear contact paper). Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Now flip the book over and on the back cover. On the back cover use magazines and words of all the positive exciting things about going back to school, such as seeing friends, art class, recess, etc. Again glue the images or cover with decoupage or clear contact paper. Use this book throughout the year to write down or draw feelings and thoughts. For stressful thoughts and worries flip to the front cover and start filling in the book, for positive thoughts and good things, flip to the back cover and fill in the pages. (It’ s two books in one). If you are using a recycled book with words, paint over the pages with acrylic paint or use artist gesso and add images and words to the painted pages.
  2. Get playful with the worries: Create dioramas of school. Do you remember dioramas? They are miniature models. Use a shoebox, or cardboard box and create a small version of a school or classroom. Furnish it with mini chairs, desks, teacher and students made from modeling clay or other modeling materials. Your child can play out their feelings in this miniature world.
  3. Get expressive with the worries: Do you have a kid who loves to perform? Channel that creative energy into creating a back to school TV show. Use your video camera and film your child play-acting the teacher and/or students. Use props or costumes and have your child come up with a few characters to solve a problem they encounter. This can be reflective of a real life situation, or they can use their imagination.

Need some more tools in your toolbox to help your kids with back to school worries & stress? Join us next week for the International Parents & Professionals Community Members Only Call “Raising Confident Children Through Mediation” with Guest Expert Heather Chauvin. Learn more here

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How to make back to school freak out free

August 8th, 2012

The count down to back to school has arrived and this time of the year can easily become overwhelming for parents and children alike. For some children transitions are really difficult; plus feelings of excitement/nervousness can easily lead to power struggles, meltdowns, shutdowns or freak-outs! If your child is at a new school, or is transitioning into a grade with more responsibility, or they have a new teacher, it can be a very stressful time (especially for children with poor coping skills). Get into the back to school swing with these sanity saving tips.

Here are 5 ways to make back to school freak out free:

 

  1. Get into the rhythm of the school year- Start to shift bedtimes and morning wake-up times a bit earlier so the first week of school isn’t a battle to get your kiddo up or to bed.
  2. Schedule time for summer schoolwork- I know most kids will be so very upset about the idea of schoolwork during the summertime! Likely there are things that they need to complete for summer, before heading back to school; and if they have no summer schoolwork you can assign reading (or visit your local tutoring company to get a jump on the year ahead).  Use positive rewards, such as earning computer/electronic time AFTER they complete the work requested.
  3. Channel their excitement into action- Start collecting back to school items, purchase new school clothes, and have your child pick-out their own binders and backpacks.
  4. Get creative- Customize backpacks, binders, and folders with unique designs. Head to the art store and pick up cools supplies to customize their back to school stuff. Use fabric paints, stencils, sew on patches, or add other flair to backpacks. Start with blank folders and binders and add scrap-booking elements, or create cool original designs with colored duck tape and sharpies.
  5. Express the fears, worries and anxieties of back to school through art- Many well intentioned parents and adults will try talk a child out of their worries. Your child may express their fears and you may begin to lecture, minimize, or rationalize why these feelings are not true. Instead of quickly reacting to your child with reasons why their fears are unjustified allow them an opportunity to express these worries through art. Create a school worry box, journal, or use paper to draw, write, or play out all the things your child may be worried about.  Allow your child an opportunity to express their worriers and concerns without censoring their thoughts and feelings.

Here’s a bonus tip- Take care of yourself during back to school time. Your child will pick-up on your worries and stress about their upcoming school year. So take the time to nourish yourself and BREATHE!

You can learn some cool tools to help your child and yourself become more calm, focused, and relaxed in our upcoming International Parents & Professionals Community Members Only Call “Raising Confident Children Through Mediation” with Guest Expert Heather Chauvin.  Click here to learn more

As an IPPC member you’ll also get instant access 24/7 to our popular audio Homework Power Struggles: Steps to minimize the homework battles and make homework time peaceful” with lots of practical tips to help reduce homework power struggles and set your child up for their best school year yet!

 

 

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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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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.

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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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School is calling and it’s not the phone call you want to get

January 10th, 2012

The phone rings, it’s your child’s teacher calling from school to let you know they think something is going on with your child. They are acting out in class, they got in an argument with their friends during recess, they did something inappropriate, their grades are dramatically slipping, or perhaps they were crying in class. Your child’s teacher is concerned, and so are you!

As a parent one of the most worrisome calls to get is the one from your child’s school. Your mind begins to race, you want more information, you want to make sense of what happened, and you want to know “why”? Before you become reactive or overly concerned there are some important steps you can take to best help your child.

7 steps you can take to best support your child after you get the dreaded phone call from your child’s school:

1.    Stay calm- Being reactive and blaming will not help the situation and will likely close down communication. If you need to process the information and you feel like you are going to become upset, ask the school staff if you can call them back in 15 minutes. Take time to process the information, go for a brief walk, take a few deep breaths, or splash cold water on your face. If you are upset and need to vent, do so with a loved one, friend, or therapist. Explain that you need to talk and ask them to just listen.

2.   Find out the facts- Talk with the staff who witnessed the behaviors or problem. What happened before the situation, who was there, do you know what was said or done, is this a one time occurrence or has this happened before, did something out of the ordinary happen prior to the situation, what did my child say or do, and how was it resolved? Be neutral and try to find out the specifics of what happened.

3.      Ask the school what support they have in place to help with this problem- Find out if the school has resources to help or other professionals they recommend to support your child. If necessary, setup a meeting with your child’s school staff, including teachers, counselors, resource staff, and principal.

4.      Listen to your child- If an incident is upsetting or you cannot comprehend your child’s behaviors (like they failed 4 tests or they hit another child) it is easy to become reactive and angry when you talk with your child. If that’s the case your child may become withdrawn, may hide the truth, or they may become reactive and blaming. Calmly ask your child to explain what happened and that you will listen as they explain without interruption. After they are done sharing their version (and you have listened for 2-3 minutes without interruption) then ask clarification questions.

5.     Deal with the “I dunnos”- Adult translation: “I don’t know” or “I know, but I don’t want to tell you because I’m embarrassed, ashamed, or know you’ll be angry or disappointed or I’ll be in big trouble”. This one may push all of your parenting buttons, because you want to understand what happened and why, so you can sort of if your child needs more support and/or what are the consequences for their behaviors.  When asking clarifying questions many children shutdown when you ask “why”. Instead of asking “why”, ask questions such as “tell me more”, “then what happened”, “how did that feel”, “help me understand”?

6.      Sort it out- Is it a one-time situation, does this behavior happen with your child in other settings? Does your child need some tools to manage their behaviors and feelings? Is there something else going on and you need some professional support? Do they need an academic evaluation, is there a need for a visit to the pediatrician or therapist, is this normal?  What often appears to be bad behaviors, such as acting out, poor grades, or shutting down, may be issues with processing, comprehension, organization, impulsivity, anxiety, depression, or anger. A professional can give you a more clear picture of what’s going on with your child and can teach you child tools and techniques to manage their behaviors and emotions, and collaborate with educational staff and tutors (often without the need for medications).

7.     What are the consequences- All behaviors have consequences. Some are natural, such as failing a test when your child refuses to study. Some are consequences parent’s choose, such as no electronics for a week. Take time to consider the consequences for your child’s behaviors. Perhaps the school has implemented a consequence of no recess and that is enough of a consequence to help your child understand the effect of his/her behaviors. Be aware that using punishments for a child who is struggling with learning disabilities or emotional disabilities may amply negative behaviors and be emotionally harming. Again, if you are unsure if the behaviors are normal, consult a professional for an assessment and more support.

If your child goes to school in the Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, or Venice area and they are experiencing problems at school, we can help.

Need some immediate support? Immediately access and download parenting resources to help your child NOW!

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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!

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