As you begin to anticipate the next season, I'd like to share my most recent blog with Different Dreams:
Feeling anxious about the new school year? You are not alone - even though the fall represents a time of consistency and routine, there is anxiety about the transition from the summer to the fall.
As you begin to anticipate the next season, I'd like to share my most recent blog with Different Dreams:
Written by: Noah Smith
Anxiety is a difficult thing to deal with, but when it affects kids, it can be devastating. That’s why it’s important to detect it early.
Many young people today are living with anxiety and other disorders which can affect their health, their performance at school, and their relationships. As a parent, it’s extremely difficult to watch your loved one struggle with something they can’t control, something that leaves them feeling an array of emotions and can even lead to depression or other mood disorders.
One of the biggest contributors to anxiety in young people is the fact that they are constantly “plugged in”. Being connected through social media and other online outlets can be a good thing, but for some, it can cause daily worries beyond their control. Bullying, a constantly refreshing newsfeed, and the pressure to fit in are just a few of the things your child may be worried about on a daily basis, so it’s important to keep up with their movements online and educate yourself on the best ways to help them stay healthy.
Here are just a few of the ways you can help your child with anxiety.
Limit screen time
Many kids these days either have their own smartphone or tablet, or they spend time on the computer when they’re home. It’s a good idea to limit your child’s screen time, not just for their mental health, but for their physical health, as well. Spending hours looking at a phone or laptop screen can interrupt sleep habits, and we all know that young people need their rest. It can be difficult to monitor a teenager’s screen time, so you might make a rule about everyone putting their phones into a basket as soon as they get home, where they’ll stay until after dinner.
If screen time is interfering with homework or concentration, and your child’s grades are slipping, it might be time to have your child turn in their tablet, kindle, iPhone, iPad or iPod in an effort to improve concentration.
Hiring a tutor for your child may also be another way to end homework battles and work on a particular skill. Tutoring can be a wonderful way for your child to get back on track and build up self-esteem at the same time.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your child about what his online habits are and who he’s talking to, especially if he’s playing online games that include interaction with other players in real time. Have a conversation about how to stay safe online--never give personal information out, come to you if a stranger becomes inappropriate, never send photos to someone else--and make sure you’re aware of all websites and social media sites your child is using. For kids of a certain age, you can place parental controls on the computer to ensure there’s no chance of them stumbling across an inappropriate site.
Educate your child about bullying
Social media can be harsh for kids, and online bullying is a very real problem that kids face today. Talk to your child about what it means and how they can respond if they feel they’re being bullied, but don’t forget to make sure they know how not to be a bully themselves. Sometimes, a hurtful comment can skew out of control, especially in the context of an informal messaging medium where kids feel safe to say whatever they want.
Unfortunately, texts, group chats, etc, can give your child the impression of anonymity. However, as we both know, our child's name is attached to their message, and that message can be forwarded and shared with multiple people and very quickly.
Remember that anxiety can take many forms, and it can usher in depression and other serious disorders that require professional help. If you feel your child is exhibiting symptoms of depression--changes in sleeping or eating habits, withdrawing from friends and family, experiencing mood swings or sadness--talk to his doctor right away.
Noah loves sharing his travel advice on WellnessVoyager.com. He tries to take one big trip each year. He’s currently saving up to backpack through Europe.
Prepared by: Stephanie Fredericka, LCSW
When we see our children upset, as parents, our gut reaction is to shield them from these unpleasant emotions or situations. It seems natural to want to protect our children, and allow them to experience only happiness, while pushing away the sadness, anger, frustration or disappointment. But, what if we allowed our children to experience these emotions that we often label as “bad” or negative? This may indeed sound unsettling. You may be wondering, “what is the benefit of allowing our children to feel these negative emotions?” I’ve pondered the same thing.
To Fix or Not To Fix?
One of the hardest parts of parenting is watching our kids undergo sadness and wondering, how can I fix this now? Or often times, we don’t want our children to know when we are sad or angry. My three-year old son (or threenager as we call him) is very intuitive, and extremely good at reading my emotions from my facial expression. He will ask me “what’s wrong mommy, why are you sad?” My natural, quick response is to say, “I’m not sad, everything is okay!” I realize that I have bee sending the message that we shouldn’t feel down, as if that emotion is something not to be discussed. But what message is this really sending to our children?
n a 2016 article, “Instead of Denying Our Sadness to Our Kids, We Should Teach Them How to Cope,” published by The Washington Post, Dr. Smita Malhorta states that: “By constantly telling children to ‘turn that frown upside down,’ our society sends them the message that being sad is almost unnatural.” She goes on to discuss how we should stop this practice and begin to allow our children to feel, no matter what the emotion.
Validate and Empathize Instead
We can take many approaches in coping with these unpleasant feelings. This particular approach is mindfulness, which entails learning to recognize our feelings and sitting with them in a nonjudgmental way. According to Malhorta, she describes mindfulness as “allowing the emotions that make up our inner world and viewing them compassionately and without judgment.” When working with children, it's important to incorporate this practice of mindfulness into the “coping skills toolbox” with which I aim to equip each child. When beginning this process with younger children, my goal is to help the child to recognize and label the range of emotions that they experience.
As children start to identify their moods with operative words, they can then start the process of allowing themselves to feel comfortable sitting with an unpleasant thoughts or feelings, without labeling it as bad. The next step is to incorporate a coping mechanism to help them work through this state. At first this can be difficult for children to navigate, because so often they hear that there’s no need to be sad and to just think happy thoughts! Through validation and empathy, the child begins to understand that it is okay to feel whatever emotions they may be experiencing. Over time, they will become more comfortable (and natural) with this process, and are able to give it a label as well.
Processing the Emotions and then Letting It Go
When trying to process negative feelings, I like to imagine sitting with or holding onto the emotion, in a nonjudgmental space, and working through the way the particular emotion and how it is making the child's body feel - we run a body scan to identify how each body part is feeling. We then visualize letting that emotion go (when ready) just like releasing a balloon.
As the feeling moves past them, we then engage in an activity that promotes calmness, such as reading, listening to music or playing with Play-Doh. With time and practice, this approach soon becomes a safe way for a child to navigate their emotions. It takes the focus away from figuring out “why,” and shifts to “letting it be.” I find most children are capable of being flexible with their thought process. They adapt, and learn to sort out their feelings with this approach, allowing for this kind of thinking (mindfulness) to flourish.
Lean Into the Negative Rather than Running Away
As parents, we can conduct feeling check-in’s at home with our children by asking them how they feel inside. Now keep in mind that you, as the parent, will also be learning to sit with the negative feelings that we are so often taught to 'run away' from or 'distract' ourselves from with food, social media, or whatever. As you try to comfort your child, you will find that you are also comforting yourself and becoming more okay with just sitting with the feelings and experiences that you have come to know as 'bad' or 'need to be fixed' (within yourself or your child).
As this process develops, you and your child will learn to feel more comfortable with negative emotions. Malhorta reports that by “leaning into their sadness and being comfortable with it, children learn resilience.” We understand that we are not the emotion we feel, but only the way we feel in a moment. We then strive to overcome it. This is a very powerful tool for children to learn and become comfortable with, as we look to send the appropriate message. That it is okay to feel, while keeping in mind that our emotions don’t make us who we are; they are just a part of our journey.
Instead of Denying Our Own Sadness To Our Kids, We Should Teach Them How to Cope Instead Dr. Smita Malhorta July 21, 2016
IEP season is coming! It can be an anxiety provoking time as a parent, as you fear if your child is making enough progress given his special education program(s) and related services, but what if you child has made 'too much' progress? So then you begin to fear that your child will no longer be eligible for services.
Click here to read my latest blog with Different reams blog with 5 questions to ask and get ready for your child's upcoming Annual Review!
Psychological & Educational Consulting LLC participated in a wellness fair with Mendham public school district
Today, Stephanie and I had the honor or being a part of the Mendham Public School District's Wellness Fair. We had a wonderful opportunity to share the services we are able to provide to their students, and to meet the parents within their school community!
By: Stephanie Fredericka
Managing and regulating emotions is part of the emotional development of children. Young children rely on parents and caregivers to give them the tools and outlets they need to gain control over their emotions. Parents can do so by allowing children to express their frustration and anger in a safe, nurturing space.
Children do not always have the language and words to label their feelings, and parents can help them with this. Parents can ask questions such as:
"are you feeling angry?
"are you upset?"
"are you tired?"
Validating how a child is feeling to let them know they are heard and understood
is a powerful tool. Adults can then offer children assistance in using coping and calm down strategies to develop their "Coping Skills Toolbox."
Below are five tools to help children express their emotions in positive outlets
and to beginbuilding the strategies with which to self-soothe. These tools can be kept in a "Calming Box."
It's also a great idea to designate an area of the home that is relaxing, possibly with a comfy chair or blanket, that a child can go to when feeling overwhelmed. Building a positive Coping Skills Toolbox can be a fun experience for children!
Playing with Play-doh or Putty
This allows children to release energy and frustration through their hands. This sensory experience allows children to begin to self-regulate as their body begins to calm. It can help to encourage the child to kneed the Play-Doh or make into a ball, and then flatten it with their palms.
Drawing or Coloring
Allow the child to draw a picture of what happened or how they
are feeling. The process of coloring allows little minds to relax and focus on something that they enjoy doing.
Help your child focus on taking big, deep breathes, in for 5 and out for 5. Encourage them to focus on taking big breathes from their belly, holding the breathe in for a couple of seconds before slowly releasing it. Playing soft music in the background will create a warm atmosphere while practicing deep breathing. Bubbles are a great way to get children to practice to focus on their breathe, as they blow to make a bubble! As the bubbles pop allow the child to visualize their worries disappearing.
Create a worry monster
When your child is calm, let him or her design a worry monster out of a tissue box. This box can be used to "eat" worries or triggers that make a child angry. When they are upset prompt him or her to write down what upset them. Then put the piece of paper in the monster to eat! This action allows the child to let their worries go as they see it disappear into the monsters mouth
Simply taking a break
Sometimes a child needs to be distracted from a situation by reading a book, listening to music or taking a walk with an adult. This is also a great opportunity to have kids do a "body scan."
Start at the head and as you work down the body, help the child to notice areas of tension in his or body. Have the child release that tension by relaxing their muscles. This can be done by squeezing and releasing their muscles.
Allowing children to feel, express and work through their frustrations normalizes their experiences and builds positive coping skills! This creates confident children with the power to gain control of their emotions.
Another blog by a young woman who shares her inner most experience and thoughts in her struggle with depression.
Depression is like this dark cloud constantly hanging over you. It follows you everywhere. Sometimes it disappears for a bit, but it always finds its way back. You feel worthless. You feel as if no one loves you. You have very negative thoughts. You hate feeling this way. You wish it would all just end. You want to be fixed. You want these feelings to go away. You're feelings aren't welcome. You're angry. You push people away. You ask yourself why you're acting this way.
You become lonely. You want to be alone, but you also want to be around people. You have no interest in doing things, yet at the same time you want to be doing something to get your mind off of your negative thoughts. You need to keep yourself busy so you don't get too deep into your thoughts, but you want to do nothing and you just want to relax all day. Your thoughts are emotionally draining, so you're exhausted even if you haven't done anything all day. People see you as lazy.
You feel as if no one understands you. Sometimes, people make you feel worse, so you isolate yourself. You're seen as anti-social.
You try to get rid of the dark cloud hanging over your head, but some days it's attached to you by a rope. There are no scissors around to cut the cloud free to let it float somewhere else. You feel stuck, like you can't get away. You are trapped and you feel as if nothing can help.
You take it day by day. Each day is just another day. There's nothing to look forward to. All you know is that when you wake up each morning, you'll be greeted by the all too familiar dark cloud.
Written by: Stephanie Fredericka, LCSW
The bond between dogs and humans is nothing shy of amazing. Any dog owner knows the amazing welcome you receive when you come home to your companion, even if only after leaving for thirty minutes! They provide unconditional love, without judgment. It is for this reason that dogs are the perfect companions to aid children who have suffered concussions.
Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in brain injuries among children playing sports. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is an estimated 3.8 million concussions per year that occur due to sports and recreational related activities. As such, there has become a growing need for services and treatment to help these athletes rehabilitate and recover from injuries ranging from mild to serious concussions. Therapy dogs are being used to aid children who have suffered head injuries, and can play a special role in their recovery. We are seeing,more often than not, the positive impact and benefits these cuddly, warm, creatures have on children. As children grow up, animals are used in children’s books and are shown in a light that makes them look easy to bond with (Reis, 2013). Children are very excited to work with dogs, which allows them to form a natural bond.
According to research, this rapid connection between human and animals is based on the ability to interact without fearing judgment (Ries, 2013). This creates a wonderful opportunity for children to engage and be motivated to engage in the therapy they need, which may include: occupational, behavioral, speech or psychical. For example, a child with a concussion may have difficulty moving his or her arm. If she is presented with a chance to pet a dog, she may reach her hand out to pet the dog without even realizing it (Rolfes, 2013). That is truly amazing! Dogs serve as an important link between the child and overcoming obstacles, which they are facing.
Of course, dogs are known for their happy go-lucky attitudes and wagging tails. This helps brighten children’s attitudes and moods, lifting their spirits! It gives children the opportunity to truly play and often forget about the therapy and goals they are working on. Clinicians are able to make significant progress with children by using the child’s trust and comfort with the animal as a tool to make therapeutic connections (Rolfes, 2013). Children are to focus on something outside of themselves while interacting with therapydogs. While helping children work to meet their therapeutic goals, they provide a helpful and positive distraction.
There are so many benefits of the use of therapy dogs. Research has shown that dogs are known for lowering stress and blood pressure (Rolfes, 2013). I believe one of the greatest benefits of therapy dogs is the positive social component they bring to working with children.
Children can feel the unconditional love that dogs radiate and many times children that are not socializing will smile or speak to a dog. A number of families have therapy dogs inside of their home to continue the benefits these dogs bring to children inside therapeutic facilities. Leaving the home may be overwhelming for a child suffering from anxiety, as a result of his or her injury. Therapy dogs bring a sense of security when outside of the home and their comfort can ease uneasy feelings from anxiety. The simple touch of petting the dog can allow the child to feel a sense of security away from home. These dogs bring so much peace for children facing adversities due to their injuries.
The Healing Power of Therapy Dogs Kristina Rolfes August 02, 2013
Kristina Rolfes August 02, 2013
The Effect of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Children with Disabilities Alison E. Ries St. Catherine University
Anxiety is a strong negative experience, and if you suffer from it, you know that it is not something you feel on some days, but it's something you feel everyday and sometimes, all day. As an anxiety sufferer myself, I know that it takes a great deal of energy to manage the anxiety, especially on the days when it peaks so high that you can't breathe.
I hope the following gives you hope that you are not alone. I hope that the following makes you realize that you are not losing your mind, or that you've lost it. The following comes from a 20 year old woman who fights with anxiety everyday. Some days, she and her anxiety can function side by side, but some days, it wears her down.
Please read and share your thoughts. And, please know that you are NOT ALONE.
Anxiety is a living hell. I didn’t sign up for this. I don’t want this. Anxiety is where you believe that everybody hates you, including your own family. You feel like you’re not loved, but when somebody does show you love, you feel like you don’t deserve it. Anxiety is having a million thoughts running through your head while you’re trying to focus on one thing. No matter how hard you try to stop the thoughts, they just keep coming and coming and they eventually take over. It’s like a bomb went off and you’re trying to calm yourself down and then someone talks to you or asks you something and you go off on them and take out your frustrations on them.
Then it makes you seem like a rude and angry person. A person no one wants to be around. Little tasks become big ones and you dread the little tasks and it takes you a whole day to accomplish them. You can’t go out in public because you think people are looking at you and judging you. You can’t get a job because you fear you’ll be judged or you won’t be a good enough employee. You don’t know what to expect. Just being around people makes you want to run and hide. In anxiety provoking situations, you can’t focus, your mind is racing, your heart is pounding, you get dizzy, your stomach knots, and all you want is to escape. When you’re in an anxiety provoking situation and you’re eating, you have trouble swallowing and you feel like you’re going to choke. You don’t want to get out of bed in the morning because you don’t know what anxiety has in store for you, so you sleep in and you seem lazy and you annoy your family because you get to sleep in and they don’t.
You are seen as irresponsible. “You are twenty years old” they say. You’re supposed to be an adult, but yet you don’t feel like one or get treated like one. Anxiety stops you from living. You’re not living, you’re existing. And it sucks. You can’t do what other adults do because the day ahead taunts and haunts you, telling you that you’re not going to make it through the day without being stressed out and anxious. So you just lay there. You lay there and do nothing all day because you know that’s when you’re least stressed and anxious. But then you get upset because you know you’re supposed to be an adult and get things done and help your family, but you’re basically just a vegetable. A vegetable of a human being you are because you do nothing. You don’t move. You’re frozen with fear of what the day will bring. Then you’re exhausted because you haven’t done anything and you’ve had way too much time to think. The thinking upsets you because you tell yourself that you’re a burden to everyone around you.
Everyone has to take care of you because you have a ball and chain around your ankle that stops you from moving and from living. You want to be able to do adult things, but you just can’t because you’re scared of the world and the people in it. Who is going to talk to you today and are you going to sound stupid? “Probably” you tell yourself. So you stay home away from the world, the world that can attack you at any minute. You don’t leave the house. You push your friend away because you can’t leave the comfort of your own home. She gets disappointed every time you turn down an invite. Eventually, that friend will go away and you’ll be alone again. You blame yourself for being such a crappy friend. You want to spend time with your friend and see her, but even she causes you anxiety. Everyone in the world causes you anxiety. So you push your friend away and you know it’s all your fault and you become upset. You’re upset because you can’t be there for your friend. Then the thoughts come racing through your head, telling you how you’ll never have friends again and even if you do, you’ll mess up those friendships too. All because of the monster that lurks inside your head. “You don’t need friends. You’ll be fine” you tell yourself.
You tell yourself that so you don’t have to dwell on the fact that you’ll be alone. You believe that you’ll die alone because you push away the people that care about you most, your friend and family. You pushing away people is a cry for help. You want the people in your life to be understanding and to be compassionate. They try their best to be there for you. You wish they were inside your head and body so they can hear the thoughts that you hear and feel the physical symptoms of anxiety. You just want people to understand what you’re going through so they can help you. But you don’t find much help because you have a hard time explaining how you feel. You find it hard to open up to people about your anxiety because you feel like you’re going to be judged or you’ll be put back in a psych ward. So you stay quiet because of your fears. Staying quiet doesn’t help you. It worsens everything. You’re anxiety becomes stronger and stronger.
You’re almost to your breaking point. You’re afraid of what’s going to happen when you reach your breaking point. Time is running out for you. You need help really soon to control this anxiety before you reach your breaking point. You’ve already given up because you believe that there is no hope and that you won’t get better. You’ve been working with the same psychiatrist for two years, but he still hasn’t found the right medication. You’ve been working with the same psychologist for nine years. She’s helped you over the course of those years and you’re not where you used to be, but you’re stuck now. You’re in a small and dark box that you can’t get out of. You’ve been in this box for about two years and no one hears your screams for help. You’re never going to be rescued. You’re stuck in this box and you’re never getting out. This isn’t a way to live; it’s a way to die.
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!
Click here to read the full blog!
What a wonderful opportunity I have had to contribute to Mary Sauer's latest blog entitled, "I'm Afraid I'm Failing my Middle Child" on Mom.me!
Click here to read her thoughts about her experience as a mother of a middle child, and my suggestions on how to help your middle one feel as important as the oldest and youngest.
Thank you for your votes! Dr. Liz, of Psychological & Educational Consulting, LLC, is your NJ Family Favorite Kids' Doc!
Stephanie Fredericka, LCSW
Identifying emotions is an important aspect of a child's development of emotional awareness. We can help our children shape their emotional intelligence through support and nurturing of their expression of feelings.
In my work with children, I like to use images of characters displaying various emotions. My goal is to help the children identify with the feelings the characters are displaying, and then discuss what invokes them to feel similar emotions. In doing so, this helps children begin to associate emotions with various situations they may be faced with. It will equip them with the necessary vocabulary to describe their feelings, when placed in similar circumstances. This reduces frustration, which in turn can help reduce the number of times tantrums and outbursts occur.
Parents can, of course, help their children identify their emotions at home. Ask your child how he feels throughout the course of the day, and encourage him to describe his feelings. It is important not only to focus on negative feelings, but also emotions that make them happy! You can ask your child to express the way she is feeling by writing or drawing a picture. By engaging her and conducting feeling “check-ins,” she'll soon be able to name their own emotions. Parents may also help their children further practice identifying emotions by pointing out moods of TV characters, story book characters or even the mood/atmosphere of certain public scenarios.
Building emotional intelligence in a child cultivates a supportive, nurturing foundation for open communication within the family unit. It is healthy practice and helpful to come together as a family, to process an argument and allow each family member to identify how they felt during and after the disagreement. This allows each family member to take ownership of their part, thus fostering an environment where individual feelings are validated and heard. It's also helpful to set ground rules when having these family meetings, such as: one speaker at a time, no “blaming games,” and allowing each person the courtesy to speak freely. This reinforces positive communication skills in children.
The ability to name an emotion is a powerful tool for a child; building emotion intelligence in children is empowering. It gives children the necessary skill sets to become strong and confident young adults as they encounter the challenges of everyday life.
Need apps for your anxious child? I am happy to share my blog with Anxiety.org which is a follow up to my blog from November 2015.
Click here to take a look and try out some of these apps - you may like them for yourself too!
Having an anxious child in your family means that you have to plan ahead and create emotional outlets for your little (or big) one who is struggling with self soothing and regulating.
Read my latest blog with Anxiety.org where I offer 9 strategies to use at home to help your anxious child to self calm.
Click here to read the full article
Is your child showing signs of a learning disability, but you're unsure of what type of learning disability?
If you're thinking it may be dyslexia, take a look at these 37 signs to see if your child may be exhibiting the red flags of dyslexia.
I am so excited to be joining the Psychological & Educational Consulting team, and to be sharing my first blog post. I hope you enjoy your reading!
Play therapy is a wonderful tool used in working with children to help them navigate and solve problems they can be facing. Children lack the verbal language to express emotions, feelings and conflicts. They have vibrant imaginations and what better way to aid them in achieving optimal development and growth then by allowing them to use their colorful minds through play.
Play is natural to children, thus play therapy creates a nurturing and comfortable environment where the child feels free to express themselves through the use of toys. Additionally, play creates a safe psychological separation from the issues and feelings a child may be experiencing. The toys used most often include dolls, dollhouses, miniature figures, sand/rice trays, and dress up clothes.
As the child plays, the therapist interprets themes that emerge from this play. These themes help the therapist to understand the child's feelings, inner conflicts and experiences. It is truly amazing what can be learned from observing play. There are many benefits to play therapy some of which include: expressing feelings, developing problem-solving skills, taking ownership of behaviors, and modifying behavior. What better way to help a child then through playing and having fun!
SIGNS OF ANXIETY
When more help is needed, contact us at Psychological and Educational Consulting - 973 400 8371 or email DrLiz@Psychedconsult.com
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis is licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in assisting children and their families with Autism, AD/HD, and other learning/behavioral disorders.