Today's blog is prepared by Nicole Filiberti, LSW
The Perfectionism of Anxiety in Children…
The need for perfection is a big part of anxiety in children. Is it an inborn trait? Is it a message that is actively or unconsciously communicated from parent to child? Helping children to dispel these thoughts is equally as important as identifying the origins, because together, a child can then find relief.
What are the signs of perfectionism in a child?
It’s very easy to interpret perfectionism as ‘behavioral’ because a child may engage in the following, which can be easily perceived as intentional or manipulative:
How to Help Your Child Un-Do Perfectionistic Standards
“Has there ever been a time when you didn’t need to be perfect?”
Ask your child this question as it will help you figure out when the perfectionistic standards began and where they may have originated. As parents, we may be subtlety (and without any bad intention) began to provide tangible or verbal praise for earning perfect scores. Also take a look at your child’s peer group - is there an element of competition regarding academics? Answers to these questions can help you address the root cause of this unrealistic drive for perfection.
Model Less than Perfect Behavior
When we make mistakes as parents, we often feel badly as we ‘should’ be able to do things correctly and serve as good role models for our children. That is actually the opposite message that we wish to communicate to our children. How many times have your said, “I’m an idiot! I burned the chicken!” Our children hear these phrases and begin to internalize that errors are not okay.
It’s important for us as parents to calmly admit to a mistake and think about how to correct it versus becoming angry, yelling, or making derogatory statements towards ourselves. Our children internalize these statements and use them towards themselves.
Explore the Gray Area
Children who strive for perfection are very often "black and white" thinkers. As parents, we need to create situations that allow for gray area thinking. That is, discuss a situation that may have happened in the news, in town, or with a friend. Discuss with your children all the possible reasons that a particular outcome happened. For example, Mrs. Smith had a car accident. How could that have happened? Maybe someone didn’t see a red light and then crashed into her; maybe she missed a red light and crashed into someone else; maybe she lost control of her car; maybe she fell asleep at the wheel; maybe the other driver fell asleep at the wheel. By engaging in this kind of thinking pattern, it then makes it easier for your child to attribute a low test score to difficult material, or that a friend not saying hello in the hall does not automatically mean that it was because she was upset with you, but rather maybe she didn’t do well on her math test, or that she isn’t feeling well.
Even Celebrities Are Not Perfect
We all perceive celebrities as being perfect, having perfect lives, and eating perfect meals. But guess what - did you know that Michael Jordon did not make his high school basketball team? A quick Google search for "celebrities with ADHD" will yield a large list of people who struggle and are less than perfect. Find people on that list who your child identifies with and likes. It will make it easy to relate back to their celebrity role models and realize that they were, indeed, not perfect either.
Perfectionism is a common struggle for many children and teens. Incorporating some of these habits into daily life can help lessen the desire for perfection and ultimately, lead to a reduction in stress and anxiety levels for those who need it.
I'm sharing another blog with Big City Moms about strategies in helping your shy child.
Eager to hear your thoughts, feedback and strategies that you've used with your own child!
Are the therapists of Psychological and Educational Consulting, Dr Liz, Stephanie Fredericka, Nicole Filiberti, Michelle Molle- Krowiak and Chrissy Sunberg, your Favorite Kids’ Docs?
What do you do when you recognize that your child is struggling academically? As parents, our first line of defense is to reach out to the teacher and then the Child Study Team. Unfortunately, getting your child the academic program and support services is not always a clear and direct process. Parents are left to decide how to gain information to determine eligibility for their child, and there are two routes: wait for the Child Study Team or seek a private psycho-educational evaluation. Click below to read this blog prepared by Dr. Liz for Different Dreams.
Today's blog is an article published by Healthline, and talks about ADHD symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
dr liz to present at child means child, on the topic of "Managing stress: parenting a child with special needs"
Today's blog comes to us from Lucy Carpenter of MatressReviews.net, and talks about the reported rates of sleep disorders in children with ADHD, the possible causes of low-quality and short duration sleep in this population, and what parents can do to help their kids get the rest they need.
For more info, go to www.mattressreviews.net
Check out Dr. Liz's Review of Kelly Bear's Feelings. It's a great resource for therapists, guidance counselors and parents!
Prepared by: Stephanie Fredericka, LCSW
Let's Get Mutisensory
When you think of the emotions, do you sometimes experience it in color? I know I do! When working with kids who are struggling to identify and label their emotions, I like to make the visual and emotional connection. Yup, I'm keeping it really multi-sensory!
Color Code It
When you think of your experience of anger, do you see red? When I think of feeling happy and relaxed, I see the color yellow. Associating a color with a feeling is a great way to tap into a child’s inner world of creativity and imagination, which is also a beneficial way to build self awareness and coping.
Is there a Swatch for That?
Color swatches (yup, I'm referring to paint color swatches) are a great tool to help our kids make their own unique association between the variation of their feelings and colors. These swatches are easy to come by and can be found in stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot.
Time to Associate
The first step is to present your child with yellow, red, orange, blue, purple, green and pink swatches. Then, ask your child which feelings they think about with each color. Present each swatch individually and ask him to think about what feeling he associates with each color. Children are typically able to match a feeling to a color with ease, which allows them to feel confident.
Level It Out
Some color swatches will go from lighter to darker shades of a color. For these swatches, we talk about how emotions (such as anger for example) can start out at a low level of intensity, and then become increasingly higher as the color gets darker. This is a great opportunity to tie in such tools to help children with emotional regulation. I often discuss that when she feels her body or emotions start to “get bigger” like colors getting darker, she can use her coping skill toolbox as a coping mechanism.
Color & Coping
Now that your child can identify the color associated with their feelings, encourage your child to incorporate the colors into your daily language. For example, as a parent, you can model, "I'm starting to get mad because you have not picked up your shoes and I've asked 3 times already. I started at a light red and now I'm getting darker!"
Next, help your child to identify different coping and calming exercises or activities. Prior to moments of escalation, identify strategies such as drawing, deep breathing, playing with kinetic sand or play doh as a way to decompress and release negative or overwhelming feelings.
By using this activity, I hope it opens up the world of colors, emotions and coping for you and your child!
Dr. Liz shares with you the latest anxiety and phobia app, Fear Nix, that provides a systematic and empirically validated approach to managing and monitoring anxious thoughts using CBT techniques and strategies.
This blog has been prepared by Michelle Molle-Krowiak, Ed.S., LCSW who is a certified play therapist and trained in the Sand Tray Therapeutic Technique.
Here at Psychological & Educational Consulting, we are happy to be celebrating National Play Therapy Week from Feb. 4th through the 10th!
As play therapy and therapists are celebrated this week, we wanted to celebrate a child’s most important play partner, their parents! As you know, play is the most predominant way a child knows how to communicate, process, and work through events in their life, whether they are positive or scary.
For many parents, play may come naturally and for others, they may not be sure ‘how’ to play or ‘how’ to engage their child in a meaningful way. Here are three play tips for you and your child during your play time:
Set aside a designated play time
You may choose 30 minutes or 60 minutes. However long you choose to play, make sure not to engage or attempt to multi-task during this time. Choose a space, whether it’s your play room, your child’s bedroom, in the backyard, or even your bedroom. Ask your child to choose a theme to begin (e.g., play doh, puzzles, dinosaurs, blocks, Barbie dolls). Bring the toys to your designated space and let your child begin.
Let Your Child Take the Lead
As your child creates the scenarios and dilemmas in the play, join him by expanding on the theme that hes’ created. For example, if the baby dinosaur is in distress, you can choose to become the mama or papa dinosaur who will come to save the baby. If you child begins to build with blocks, add to the main building and give it a name.
During this time, also listen to your child’s themes. Children tend to re-create situations that are confusing or distressing to them with the hopes of finding solutions. Perhaps you can be a part of encouraging the solution. Play is a form of communication for your child who may not yet have the complex language to express their feelings of fear, sadness or stress. This will also give you an idea of where your child is struggling as well as a place to start in conversation the next time you are in the car or at the dinner table.
During play, you may also choose to put closure on a situation that your child is processing that is distressing. For example, if your child watched you fall down the stairs or knew that you were in a car accident, she may re-enact the car accident or the slip down the stairs. Use this time to show that the mama or papa dinosaur or figure was in accident, it hurt, but now they are okay. It is not uncommon to watch your child re-enact the teacher-student dynamic from the classroom. This will give you a glimpse of the type of interactions that are taking place in the classroom between students and between teacher and students. If your child is struggling academically, you will begin to hear this (e.g., “You didn’t write the letter “S” correctly, write it 5 more times). Help your child to create a corrective experience through the play (e.g., It’s okay if you didn’t write the letter “S” correctly. You just may need to practice and I can do it with you).
Keep It Positive
During the time that you and your child are playing, praise your child’s ideas and validate them (e.g., let your dinosaur talk about a time when they felt scared too. Avoid any urge to ‘correct’ your child’s play or to push him to play one game over another or, in one way versus another. When you are done playing, share with your child that you really enjoyed playing with her and you can’t wait to do it again.
With that said we embrace Virginia Axline’s description of the benefits of play therapy...
“enter into a child’s play and you will find a place where minds, hearts and souls meet.”
Parent Resources for more information...
Play Therapy Makes a Difference
Thank you to APT for the above resources.
Parent Resources for more information...
Are you an anxious parent? As a fellow anxious parent, it has taken me a while (I know - I should have figured this out sooner!) to realize that I am passing on my own anxiety onto my children. Anxiety is not only passed on genetically, but it is also passed on through our words, our warnings, our body language, our facial expressions.
Click below to read my blog with Mommy Bites where I share a few strategies to help us process our own anxiety, our triggers, as well as our children's.
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles