Book Review "13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do" by Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin’s 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Dois a must-read for parents and parents to be. It’s easy to read, well-written, and points out 13 key pillars that parents of our generation have moved away from. This book has created a clear delineation of my role as a parent while helping me separate out the discomforts of parenting that tap into my own insecurities as a person.
My favorite “thing” of the “13 things” that Amy points out is avoiding the victim mentality. It’s one that is easy to fall into for all of us, of all ages and genders, and especially for children and adolescents who are anxious. Instead of becoming subject to circumstances, Amy points out how we, as parents, can shape our circumstances so that they serve us. Instead of feeling badly for ourselves, it’s taking the current situation and turning it into what we want it to be. I just love how she also gives us permission, as parents, to hold our children to higher standards, and to hold them accountable to those standards. It’s not that simple, I know, but if we as parents can model this for our children and use this language in our daily conversations, we will create children who are good problem solvers, leaders, and innovators.
As a Child & Adolescent Psychologist, I can attest to how these strategies and exercises will help you to raise a resilient child who is confident, self-sufficient, and ultimately, happy.
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"Let Your Heart Out: How to escape your thoughts and reconnect with the most important part of yourself" by Dr. Stefani Reinold
Written by a woman, a mother, a professional, this book truly spoke to my heart! Stefani is genuine, honest, and spoke of her experiences, emotions, and struggles in vulnerable way that made it easy for me to relate. This book is a must read for women who are raising babies and businesses. Women who aim to do it all and do it really well, every moment of every day.
Stefani debunks our need to keep it perfect, calls out the ugly parts of a woman’s journey in life as a mother, a wife, a friend, and a professional. I genuinely appreciate how she verbalized for me how she thought that when she accomplished the different milestones of gaining her degree, getting married, having a baby, she would have felt fulfilled. But she didn’t, and many women don’t. She beautifully identifies that the reason for this is because we are not being true to our hearts and we have spent a huge part of our lives, time, energy and thoughts trying to live up to standards that were not truly created by our hearts.
As a Child and Adolescent Psychologist and mother of 3, it felt as though that Stefani has been on my life journey with me. She eloquently describes her emotional experiences and offers suggestions and exercises to help you re-connect with you.
I strongly recommend this book to any woman who can’t answer the question, “Who Am I?” or “What do I want in my life?” Whether as a result of divorce, a growing sense of dissatisfaction, or feeling lost by the roles we feel like we need to take on to be a “good (insert role here)”.
Well done, Stefani! And thank you for putting into words all of the feelings that we women have but feel ashamed or embarrassed to have.
"Billions Lost: The American Tech Crisis and the Roadmap to Change" by Hilarie Gamm
Dr. Liz's Review Hilarie Gamm has hit the nail on the head in her eloquent and well thought out preparation of this book, “Billions Lost: The American Tech Crisis and The Road Map To Change.” I have read the “Hard Work Factor” and “The Damaging Effects of The Disintegration of Teen Labor” chapters several times, and they are resonating very strongly with me. In essence, Hilarie recognizes that our generation of children has lost the “work hard, play hard, earn hard” mentality and is now functioning on the sense of “work minimally, earn hard” which is creating a sense of lethargy and lack of motivation.As parents, we also have not continued in the push to work and save, but rather we are funding our children’s social activities and providing a lavish lifestyle that they will not be able to maintain independently in their future.
The damaging effects on our children as adults will be huge. In line with my professional work as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice, specializing in children and adolescents, we have a generation of children and adolescents who are scared, lacking skills and resilience. We are also seeing much too much of “failure to launch” young adults who have developed a mind set of “don’t work hard, but get a good paying job and maintain a high end lifestyle.” The connection between work hard, start at the bottom of the ranks and work your way up, does not resonate with many of our young adults. Hilarie stated it so clearly in that our children lack the “hunger for success” that motivated us as their parents to continuously challenge ourselves, learn more, and to hold goals.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as a parent and professional, and will recommend it to other parents as a way to understand how our culture and societal values have changed over time and how they are negatively impacting our children’s emotional, social, academic well-being, and future career aspirations. Hilarie also offers an entire chapter on how to make those positive changes, and it can start at home in our conversations and expectations with our children.
"The Stigmatized Child, Mommy Am I Stupid?" by Anne Ford
Dr. Liz's Review “The Stigmatized Child, Mommy, Am I Stupid” is a really well-written description of the journey of a parent of a child with special needs. Understanding and accepting your child’s special need(s) can sometimes be overwhelming. It requires time to wrap your mind around the idea that your child’s development is a little bit off. Once the awareness builds, sometimes it really builds. As a parent, I’ve had to “do my research” about my child’s areas of weaknesses and understand them. Once I understood them, I had to figure out what she needed and how to go about advocating for her.
Anne Ford truly opened herself up to sharing her most intimate thoughts and experiences. Her trials, her search, her understanding and her acceptance. This book is validating for the parents who thought they were alone or the “only one” having this experience. She has captured how there is no one “perfect” program or “perfect” school that will meet our child’s needs in their entirety. It truly takes a village of professionals to create the program for your child. And just when it’s all settled, your child makes progress and it’s time to re-vamp it!
As a Child/Adolescent Psychologist and Educational Consultant, as well as a parent of a child with special needs, this book honestly and genuinely captured my inner thoughts and worries. It also gave me so much that my child, and all of our children, are going to get to where they need to be.
Dr. Liz's Review Another fabulous children’s book by Lori Lite! What a valuable resource to me as a mother and Child Psychologist. The pictures are vivid and engaging. With the story being about an octopus, it was easy for my own children and the children with whom I work to relate to the release of ink as a visual for being angry. The octopus learning to take control of its body through deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation is an easy way for our children to relate to the angry and overwhelmed feelings as well as self-calming.
Happy to add this book not only to my personal library but to my library in my private practice to read with young children to allow them to relate to underwater sea creatures, which is not intimidating and normalizing. This book has the added benefit of being able to follow the breathing exercises alongside the octopus, which makes this book not only entertaining, but functional. I value books that double up as therapeutic tools!
Kelly Bear Feelings Book Dr. Liz's Review Kelly Bear Feelings is an easy to read book for children ages 3-9. Through the use of this adorable green bear, children can relate to the different feelings that he/she describes easily and without it being threatening or scary. The book is clearly written and easy to understand for children. After each of the feelings are described and when the bear experiences them, there are questions to help you, as a parent or therapist, to encourage conversation, which will be candid and insightful for parents and teachers.
Often times, our children act out because of feelings they are unable to verbalize, but this book gives a label to the feelings that our children are having and unable to communicate. Parents, teachers and therapists who use this book will find it to be a great outlet for young, sensitive and anxious children who may feel that they are the 'only ones' who feel the way that Kelly Bear has described in this book. Giving words to the experiences and the moments when a child is feeling left out, for example, will now give the child the language to be able to express himself more clearly, which is both relieving and empowering.
As a Child Psychologist in private practice, I plan on using this book with the children with whom I work, and will recommend it to parents as well!
Fear Nix App: An App for Managing Anxiety & Phobias
Created by: Akilan Rajendran The maker of Kinditude and the Worry Watch App too!
Dr. Liz's Review Fear Nix is an app that is targeted at helping people who are suffering from anxiety to identify the fear or skill with which they would like to make a change.
The next step is to create a hierarchy of events/situations that are least to most anxiety provoking. After that has been established, the person is now encouraged to go out into the world and expose himself to certain situations or situations that trigger anxious thoughts. This process is monitored through continuous logging. The final step is to examine your efforts and think about which coping strategy was the most helpful and rate the level of anxiety, with the goal that it is now lower.
Fear Nix taps into true Cognitive Behavioral Therapeutic techniques and strategies in a systematic approach. This app is best geared for adolescents and adults versus children, unless the parent is setting the steps and monitoring the progress. This app is also not one to be used in the moment of high anxiety but rather with pre-planning and setting of goals in advance and then working on them in an effortful way.
As a psychologist in private practice, I would recommend this app to adolescents and adults suffering from anxiety in order to provide them with repeated and consistent exposure and effortful thought about the sources of their anxiety in between sessions.
Divorce is Not the End of the World
This book is a guide for children whose parents are divorcing or divorced. It offers a great deal of validation for children who are going through this process and don't know how to make sense of the changes that are taking place in their own and in their relationship with their parents. It is easy to read with questions at the end that trigger conversation between you and your child, or between a therapist and his client.
Creator, Akilan Rajendran, shares her mission: Kinditude app focusses on the very essence of life, kindness towards one and all. Kindness is more than a random act. It is an attitude that needs to be instilled, an habit that needs to be developed.
Kinditude helps to cultivate an attitude of kindness with an elegant interface and appealing statistics. - Shows simple ideas to express kindness towards people, animals, environment or even self. - Captures kindness experience in an elegant journal and provides visually appealing statistics - Reminds to be kind every day with a daily reminder - Provides export feature to share the journal and statistics for inspiring others - Keeps entries secure using passcode and iCloud backup - Personalizes the app with themes, fonts and more
Dr. Liz's Review I am so impressed that there is an app that can cultivate and encourage kindness everyday in a variety of ways! What a beautiful app that should be incorporated into the lives of our children through our families, teachers, and schools at large. How wonderful would it be if we would, as adults and children, identify one way to be kind each day and then practice it? Our classrooms and homes have the potential to be filled with positivity, encouragement, and kindness.
I am so blessed to have this app on my phone. I am encouraged to be a kinder person each day, and with this app, I won't run out of ways to do it!
Book Review "Sam: The Cat Without A Tail" By Gloria LIntermans
Gloria Lintermans has written a wonderful and sweet book, Sam: The Cat Without A Tail, that is engaging and easy for children to relate. Through the use of an animal, Gloria makes the parallel to children, in a safe and comfortable way, and how they feel different, and different is not always a good thing for our children. Sam is an adorable and friendly Manx (a special breed of cat that never have a tail) and comes to realize that he is different from the other cats he is meeting. Although this is the way he has always known himself, he begins to take to heart the other cats’ comments about not having a tail. It takes one person to point out how special Sam is and he quickly gains her confidence back.
As a clinical psychologist, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will make it a part of my collection of books to read to children in my practice. It will promote conversation between therapist and child about feeling different, being teased, and ultimately self acceptance for one’s uniqueness.
This book is a short and sweet way of initiating conversation with a child who is anxious and insecure for whatever reason – real or perceived. Looking forward to reading this book often!
Mindfulness App for Children
Click here to access Mindfulness App for Children Creators, Janik and Pia Holgersen, share their vision: As a psychomotor therapist, I am working with clients of all ages and body awareness is a keyword in my work. My idea with Mindfulness for children, or my wish with this app is, that children use it with their parents, awareness training involving the whole family, not only the child. I believe this app offers simple but very effective exercises, for noticing bodily sensations and thoughts and become comfortable with them and not being taken over by them. This has a deeply calming effect on the nervous system and is one (of manny ways) way to support internal and interpersonal well-being.
Dr Liz's Review: This app is easy to use and meditations are just long enough to help you and your child relax. Visual imagery is used to transfer worries that can float away with ease. Can be used to help a child ease into bedtime, during a (therapy, speech, occupational therapy) session or before receiving academic instruction to teach the body how to relax, feel positive, and improve focus.
A Book Review of Lee Wilkinson's, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Schools, Second Edition 2nd Edition
The book makes assessment of children on the Autistic Spectrum in school very easy. It's a matter of opening the book and identifying the key areas of assessment, based on good practice. I wish I had this book as a guide when I was a member of the Child Study Team (years ago) as a School Psychologist. The areas of assessment are thorough and leave little room for questioning or error in the evaluation process. Further, good evaluation and diagnostic data then informs the treatment plan, and school program.
This book is also equally as helpful to the parent of a child who is consulting with his/her neurologist and or pediatrician. It would be great if pediatricians can have this book available to their parents when they are questioning if their child is on the Autistic Spectrum because it guides the questioning and evaluation process before the school (if the child is of school age) becomes involved.
Overall, the amount of information that can be gathered by the parent, teacher and Child Study Team, based on the recommendations made by this empirical and nicely organized book, will be extremely helpful and take out much trial and error out of the process for members involved in the process.
Overcoming Dylexia by Sally Shaywitz Overcoming Dyslexia is a resource I refer to regularly on the topic of reading and writing language disabilities, specifically dyslexia. The author breaks demystifies dyslexia and makes it digestible for the parent, the teacher, and the diagnosing clinician.
The Worry Trick: How Your Brain Tricks You into Expecting the Worst and What You Can Do About It by: David A Carbonnel, Ph.D. I recently started reading this book because I was hoping to gain a few strategies to use with children and adolescents when trying to turn off worrisome, repetitive thoughts, including myself and my own children! I am really enjoying it because of how logically anxiety is explained, the types of worries, the types of worriers, and ways to break the cycle.
A Book Review of Helmy Adam's, The Math Handbook, for Students with Difficulties, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia or ADHD
Dr. Liz's Review: The Math Handbook by Helmy Faber reviews many math topics at the elementary school. As a parent and Educational Psychologist, this book has helped me to understand how students make visual associations with math skills without rote repetition and memorization.
Although not meant only for visual learners, the student who learns best by being able to see the concepts and using color, can use this book as a reference to review concepts over and over again if it becomes unclear or is forgotten. It is easy to pick up and reference topics of interest to you and your child without the need to go through chapters and chapters. The colors and larger font also make it less intimidating and overwhelming.
The pages at the end of the book are a great place for students to take notes. Being able to refer back to the different lessons can potentially help to lessen anxiety about forgetting how to solve a problem or a math fact. The ultimate goal is to increase a child’s confidence in mathematics, and this book can help your child to do just that!
The Angry Octopus, Color Me Calm Color Me Happy by Lori Lite
Dr. Liz's Review What a fun way to combine the skill of self-calming and a childhood favorite art time that comes naturally to all of our kids – coloring and positive messages! Each page of this coloring book contains gentle, kind messages that are easy to read and understand.
As a psychologist in private practice (specializing in children struggling with anxiety) as well as a mom, I am always on the prowl for different ways to engage our children and adolescents in discussing their experience of anxiety and finding real, everyday ways to manage that overwhelming experience. This book is especially helpful in helping me, as a therapist, to engage adolescents while we are establishing a rapport, and with those who may be too nervous to speak their mind.
This coloring book is also part of a fantastic series of books that helps children and adolescents to create visualizations of their anger through the octopus, using the rainbow colors to visualize the escalation and de-escalation of emotions, as well as progressive muscle relaxation to empower our children instead of feeling afraid.
This coloring book makes me feel happy as I am coloring the different characters and scenes. I plan on continuing to use this book with my own children as well as with the children and adolescents with whom I work!
Scaredies Away Scaredies Away is a great book for elementary school aged children (ages 6 and up) who are struggling with anxiety! It provides an easy to follow story about two boys who are scared of new things, and even daily life tasks. A clear cut and easy strategy is explained in how to take control over the anxious thoughts or trigger and manage it. It's also very validating to identify with the secondary character who seems cool and with it to be able to share that he also struggles with anxiety. It is also encouraging and relieving to the reader that you may use this strategy multiple times in response to the same situation, and that the anxious thoughts and feelings may return the next time a child is in the same situation.
Scaredies Away also provides exposure to our children so they are better able to identify and gain awareness of their body signals of anxiety, and how to take control over those anxious feelings. By practicing the strategy described in the book, the ultimate goal is to give our kids the ability to identify their anxious response, attribute it to the cause, and identify ways to cope.
This book can be read by parents to children to initiate conversation about anxiety, or by a therapist with a child in a therapeutic session. Validating, reassuring, and empowering!
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood Are you raising a teenage girl? Do you want to pull your hair out? Does it feel like she's been possessed by some sort of unknown spirit? Read through this book to help you understand the emotional ups and downs of a budding adolescent girl, and how you can engage her, validate her, and understand her.
Rainbow Color and Sound Therapy together - what a fantastic app! For someone who enjoys listening to meditation music, this app is perfect for me. The music is comforting, relaxing, and because it's on an endless loop, I can listen to it for as long as I need until I feel calmer and more grounded. The colors are engaging and soothing as well, and give me something to focus on when I'm feeling overwhelmed and unable to clear my mind.
Sometimes it's difficult for me to stop my incessant flow of thoughts as much as I might try. Mental imagery can be great but often times, it's just not enough for me to stop the thoughts from creeping in and taking over again. I really am enjoying how I get the benefit of the music/sounds and sights together. As I'm typing this review, the app is on in the background. I'm slowly letting go of the stressors of the day, and of a week that seemed like it was never going to end.
Thank you for creating this app. I plan on using it with my own children for calm, and will recommend it to the families with which I work as another source of relaxation that is easy to use, and highly effective.