- February 15, 2021
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a chronic, complex neurodevelopmental disorder that effects a child in multiple ways including success at school and relationships. ADHD symptoms vary by individual child and can be difficult to recognize. ADHD is a condition that effects over six million children. The average age of diagnosis is seven. There are three subtypes of ADHD: Hyperactive-impulsiveInattentiveCombined Symptoms vary by age, gender, individual and can change over time. Symptoms must be present in across settings such as school, home and community. 1. Hyperactive-impulsive subtype Frequently, more boys are diagnoses with this subtype. Difficulty sitting still, fidgeting, or restlessness: I have seen these kids in play therapy- they are constantly on the move. A popular accommodation for this is to provide wobbly chairs or yoga balls for children during school or homework time. Constant talking: Their behavior is very self-focused often interrupting or having trouble waiting their turns. Kids may have tantrums when they don’t go first during a game. They may also blurt out answers in class or interrupt family members during dinner. Touching and playing with objects, even if they are not related to the task at hand: Equipping kids with small, but quiet fidget toys assists children in keeping their hands to themselves. I have seen kids’ listening focus skyrocket when their hands are otherwise occupied. Difficulty engaging in quiet activities: Reading, studying, or sitting is a struggle. Allow them to have quiet, calming music in the background. In addition, practicing meditation, starting small, even 30 seconds a day, will slowly increase their abilities. 2. Inattentive subtype Statistically impacts more girls. Missing details and being easily distracted: As previously mentioned, providing fidget toys as an option, can increase listening focus. Bored easily, and frequently switch activities: I have seen kids in my playroom engaging in ten various activities during the course of their session. Losing items needed to complete a task, such as pens, pencils, or papers: I recommend, walking kids through organizing their supplies at the end of each day. Slowly, over time, this will become a daily habit for them. Difficulty organizing thoughts and slow to process information: I advise parents to give directions one at a time, allowing kids a chance to have small successes. Daydreaming is a common occurrence with inattentive children: Kids will stare off into space and ignore everything else around them. 3. Combined Children within subtype have symptoms from both of the above categories. Comment below and let me know what behaviors your child is currently struggling with. Most children, with or without ADHD, experience some degree of inattentive or impulsive behavior. But it’s more severe in kids with ADHD. Accommodations can be made to help these children in succeeding. CONTACT us to discuss ways we can help.
- February 8, 2021
Ah February! While it’s cold outside, our hearts stay warm with the reminder of love for others as we celebrate Valentine’s day. Though Valentine’s day is often considered a romantic holiday for adults, for children, this is a wonderful opportunity for parents to encourage expressions of love and appreciation for friends, teachers, and family members. In this article, I have some Valentine’s family fun with inspiring resources and ideas for ways parents can support children in exploring the concepts of love and appreciation. Here are 5 Valentine’s Family Fun Activities to Try! Snuggle up with a book about love! As a reader of my blog, you probably know by now that I find books to be an invaluable way for children and parents to bond while learning and exploring various concepts about life. I have a few of my favorite books here for parents and children to read together on the topic of LOVE. Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton is a simple, little love song for very young children all about the unconditional love the dogs have for the puppy. https://amzn.to/3jrc8bH Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joose is a refreshing story about a mother’s unconditional love for her daughter despite the daughter testing the boundaries and the mother having normal emotions of frustration and anger sometimes. https://amzn.to/3p2KMcV I Love You the Purplest also by Barbara Joose is a beautiful story about a mother of two sons and how she loves each of them for their own specialness. https://amzn.to/3pZufIe Love by Matt de la Pena is a book about love even in times of adversity and darkness. https://amzn.to/36QJb3W 2. Make some home-style valentine’s cards! With a free downloadable printable provided, this craft article will provide instructions on how you and your child can make some fun, simple valentines. Here are 22 more creative home-made valentine ideas to inspire you! 3. Celebrate love with a warm blanket, popcorn and a movie! Pop some Valentine’s Popcorn, snuggle under a warm blanket on the couch and watch a move about LOVE such as The Little Prince, Lady and the Tramp or The Princess and the Frog. 4. Make a Valentine’s game to play together! Valentine’s family fun is just a simple game away. With this free printable, you can have your own home-made memory game with a Valentine’s theme. Not only will you have fun playing this game together as a family, memory games are great for helping children hone skills for focus, patience and taking turns. Prefer a more physical game? How about making a Valentine’s bean bag toss game? 5. Make a special Valentine’s breakfast together! How about heart shaped pancakes with a special strawberry sauce? Here’s a recipe. While you’re enjoying your special pancakes together, talk about how the heart is a symbol for where our love grows for others within us. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s day the entire month of February or you reserve the 14th for special holiday activities, when the winter weather keeps you stuck inside, it’s the perfect time to help your child consider what it means to feel and express love for others. Having some special Valentine’s family fun activities planned will enable your family to create lasting memories of shared love and connection.
- February 1, 2021
Did you know our body’s nervous system has different ways of activating to protect us from a perceived challenge or threat? We can go into a fight/flight/freeze state or a collapse state. What does this have to do with your child and regulation of emotions? I have been involved in a lot of car accidents, so driving or even being a passenger during times of heavy traffic is an anxiety trigger for me. My breathing becomes rapid as does my heart rate. I become hyper-alert and hyper-vigilant of the other cars around me. My body is perceiving a challenge. My nervous system is activated. I am in a hyper-aroused fight/flight/freeze response. Some additional symptoms that are associated with this response are: defensivenessa pounding sensation in the headexcessive motor activityfeelings of overwhelm or disorganizationbeing highly irritableuncontrollable bouts of rageaggressiondisassociation During this activated state our bodies externalize our response in preparation for a challenge. For example, my niece, when it is time to take a break from electronic devices will yell, stomp her feet, and at times throw the device she so badly wants to keep using. When dysregulated, children are unable to think logically and about consequences. The first step in working to regulate others is to regulate ourselves. We need to remain calm and level-headed in an effort to support our children. There are many different ways to regulate ourselves. The most common one discussed is deep breathing, in through the nose and out through the mouth with inhalation and exhalation at the same lengths. Other options include: describing what is happening in your body. For example, when I saw my niece throw the tablet, I told her I feel angry, my heart is racing and my fists are tight. Temperature changes also work to normalize our nervous system. Drink cold water through a straw, put a cold or warm washcloth on your face, or take a shower or bath. Listening to calming music Dimming swinging or rocking With other perceived threats and challenges, the nervous system may go into a collapse state or hypo arousal. This occurs a lot with teenagers, when they become depressed and isolate themselves from friends and family. Symptoms of this response include: helplessnesslack of expressionfeeling numbappear lifelesslethargic or tiredemotionally constricted Ways to regulate in this state include: Deep pressure on arms and legs or massages Movement in any way that feels good to your body: run, jump, spin, danceFast tempo, rock music with a strong bass turning off lights It is important to remember to practice these skills with children when they are in regulated states. When they can think logically and make conscious choices, a child is more likely to master a skill. By doing this, we increase a child’s window of tolerance so they can remain regulated for longer periods of time. Children will need to learn to utilize these skills on their own as well as with others. Role play various scenarios where the regulation activities will be needed, such as school, home, or the playground. Drop me a comment below and let me know what new activity you are excited to teach your child. Being aware of the state of activation in our children, hyper, hypo, or regulated, is important for parents to start to notice. Repeating these small regulation activities will equip kids and parents with what they need when big feelings arise. If moments of dysregulation are occurring more frequently or with lasting longer periods of time, consider contacting us for support.
- January 25, 2021
As we discussed last week, gratitude is one of many positive emotions. It’s about focusing on what’s good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have. 1. Make expressing gratitude a ritual. You can’t expect gratitude to just appear. Just like the grass won’t grow green if you don’t water it. You must practice. Here are a few gratitude activities for kids that will help make gratitude a daily ritual: During dinner, have each person sharing one awesome thing from their dayAt bedtime, say three things you appreciate about each other and others in your familyIn the car play a game where you say all the things you loveEvery Sunday share one nice thing you will do for someone over the next week 2. Every Sunday share one nice thing you will do for someone over the next week Invest in some window paint and have your kids write what they are thankful for on a window in your house. You can wash off the writing when you’re done or have a thankful week where you add to it every day. 3. Write Thank You Notes Think about someone you would like to thank, a coach, teacher, friend and then write a letter. If your child is too young to write, help them. Ask your child to picture how happy this person will be reading this special letter. 4. Reading books about gratitude with your children is a great way to start a discussion. Talk about how the characters feel and what it means to be thankful. When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In this imaginative take on that popular saying, a child is surprised (and disappointed) to receive a lemon tree from Grandma for her birthday. After all, she DID ask for a new gadget! But when she follows the narrator’s careful—and funny—instructions, she discovers that the tree might be exactly what she wanted after all My Attitude of Gratitude In this story you can learn what you can do if your child gets sad and upset because you won’t buy him a new toy? How can you teach him to be thankful for what he already has? In this story, Grandma teaches her grandson how to cope with unfulfilled desire by making a gratitude jar into which to put reminders each night of everything good that has happened during the day. 3 Minute Gratitude Journal for KidsA guide to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for children. It is a self-exploration journal designed to focus on being thankful for what we have, the big things in life, as well as the simple joys. There are links to these books below. 5. Gratitude jar. This is a simple exercise that can affect your well-being and outlook. It doesn’t take much, only a jar, ribbon or stickers, cut up pieces of paper and a pen or pencil. And the most important ingredient, gratitude! Step 1: Start by finding a jar or box.Step 2: Decorate the container however you wish. You can tie a ribbon around the jar’s neck, put stickers on the sides, use clear glue and glitter to make it sparkle, paint it, keep it simple, or do whatever else you can think of to make it a pleasing sight.Step 3: The most important step, which will be repeated every day. Have your child think of at least three things throughout their day that they are grateful for. It can be something like a favorite toy, or as deep as a hug from mom or dad. Have them write down what they are grateful for on little slips of paper and fill the jar. Over time, they will find that they have a jar full of reasons to be thankful for and enjoy the life they are living. It also will cultivate a practice of expressing thanks. When your kids are feeling especially down and need a quick pick-me-up, take a few notes out of the jar to remind them of who, and what, is good in their life. When we make it a habit to feel grateful, it makes us more aware of good things as they happen. Starting with these small, but meaningful activities, we can begin to instill an attitude of gratitude in our children. I am grateful for all of you, so if you want to receive 6 free tips on how to help children cope with big emotions, sign up for my mailing list here. Affiliate Links When Grandma Gives You a Lemon TreeMy Attitude of Gratitude3 Minute Gratitude Journal for Kids
- January 20, 2021
Gratitude is one of many positive emotions. It’s about focusing on what’s good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that gratitude is linked to happiness in children by age 5. This means that instilling gratitude in your kids at a young age could help them grow up to be happier people. Gratitude is pausing to notice and appreciate the things that we often take for granted, like having a place to live, food, clean water, friends, family, even computer access. It’s taking a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are when something good happens — whether it’s a small thing or a big thing. BENEFITS OF GRATITUDE Gratitude doesn’t just feel good. Making a habit of gratitude can also be good for us. Like other positive emotions, feeling grateful on a regular basis can have a big effect on our lives. Brain research shows that positive emotions are good for our bodies, minds, and brains in many ways. Positive emotions open us up to more possibilities by boosting our ability to learn and make good decisions.Positive emotions balance out our negative emotions. People who often feel grateful and appreciative are happier, less stressed, and less depressed.One positive emotion often leads to another. When we feel grateful, a snowball effect can occur and we might also feel happy, calm, joyful, or loving.Gratitude can lead to positive actions. When we feel grateful for someone’s kindness toward us, we may be more likely to do a kindness in return. Consequently, your gratitude also can have a positive effect on someone else’s actions.Gratitude also helps us build better relationships. When we feel and express heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to people in our lives, it creates loving bonds, builds trust, and helps you feel closer to others. PARTS OF GRATITUDE Noticing Start by becoming aware of a person, place or thing you want to appreciate. Did someone do something nice for you? Did someone give you something or take you somewhere fun?Thinking, Start thinking about why you’ve been given these things. What are all the reasons why you are thankful for this person or thing?Feeling The emotions you experience as a result of the things you’ve been given. When you think about these special things or people how do you feel? Happy, silly, excited, calm, peaceful or proud?Doing The way you express appreciation. What can you do to express your gratitude for this person, place or thing? Think actions. WAYS TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE Manners Manners are really the first place we should start to build gratitude in our children. Once we have nailed please and thank-you’s down, we can move onto some more complex items. Manners show that we don’t feel we are just entitled to things, just because. Encourage please’s and thank-you’s in your children every day and model them yourself. Offer gentle reminders where needed. It might feel like you are forcing this, but it’s still the first step. Don’t be shy to discuss why you are nagging at them to say thank you over and over. And remember, kids want our approval, so noticing when they do nice things can go a long way. “I really liked the way you said thank you earlier”. Make Kindness Automatic Kindness is free. So spread that super magic dust everywhere! …and kindness is something that you CAN teach. To your children. There are so many ways to be kind: …you can simply give compliments, share things, help someone in need, pick up garbage, visit a friend, volunteer, or donate something… Find the WOW in your day Teach your kids to look for the extraordinary even in the ordinary. If the sunset is particularly beautiful, comment on it. If the sound of the baby’s laughter warms your heart, tell your children. Encourage them to look for their awe-inspiring moments and share them with you. If we start to see the world with fresh eyes, we realize almost everything is different all the time — the school yard, the smell in the air, the smiles of our friends, even the emotions we experience. Always Look on the Bright Side It’s about shifting our mindset from positive to negative. We need to start to see the positive in things —even if things don’t turn out the way we want. If it’s raining on your child’s outdoor birthday party, you could point out that while it’s disappointing, instead you will have an epic games day inside. Ask questions that help your child see another side of a bad situation. Play a game where you always rephrase a complaint to something positive. Turn “I hate broccoli,” into, “well even though I don’t really care for broccoli, it’s keeping me healthy and growing strong.” By teaching this mindset we set in motion a domino effect for your child’s brain to start to automatically fire this way. It doesn’t happen overnight, but in time, change happens. Work Through Envy Jealousy and envy are two of the dreaded states of mind that can cause a lot of hardship. Teach your children to work through feelings of jealousy. To appreciate what they have and to STOP comparing themselves to others. Model Gratitude Model gratitude yourself. Your child will organically learn things from you. If you don’t practice gratitude, they won’t either. Monkey see monkey do. Be the change you wish to see. Start by dropping me a comment and let me know what you are grateful for today. Next week we will be discussing specific ways and techniques to practice gratitude with your child. Interested in finding out more tips and tricks to help your child with emotion management? Sign up for our email list here.
- January 11, 2021
Sensory play provides children an opportunity to explore through the use of their senses of sight, smell, touch, sound and even taste. These fun activities are also a way for the whole family to join in and play together. Encouraging children to participate in sensory play promotes healthy brain development. Sensory play helps children integrate differing sensory input, building tolerance, learning to problem solve and develop skills of focus and persistence. When the wintery weather keeps us cooped up indoors, it can be challenging to come up with activities so in this article I’m providing a host of ways you can introduce your child to sensory play on cold winter days. Here are 7 sensory play activities for cold winter days Make some snow slime! What fun your child will have with the creative recipes in this article and video demonstrating how to DIY at home.You can make fake snow with kitchen flour and create a tray of snow to play in. Check out this tutorial article for instructions. Bundle up with warm mittens, hats, coats and boots and go for a winter nature walk! Listen for the crunch of snow under foot. Look up at the bare tree branches. Crack an icicle. Watch your breath in the cold air. Then you can come back into the warm house and sip on hot cocoa with tiny marshmallows and reflect on how it tastes.Set up some warm water play. It’s as simple as pouring warm water into a plastic bin placed on a tarp, equipping your child with items that float, items that sink, some cups, a turkey baster, funnels and ladles and (with careful supervision of young children) encourage your child to explore the properties of the water in the bin. Create DIY winter-themed play-dough using ½ cup hair conditioner and 1 ½ cups of cornstarch plus some fir or spruce essential oil and some blue sparkles if you like. You and your child will enjoy the process of creating the dough and then noticing the texture changes, the scents and the fun of squishing, rolling and building.Make warm apple cinnamon cider. Mix the ingredients with your child, heat on the stove with careful supervision and take in the aroma and note the soothing warmth of the steam and the pleasing taste together. Here’s a recipe.Set up a bean tray for sensory play. Use dried white navy beans in a casserole dish or a shoe box and include miniature trees and animals. Include scoops, cups, a funnel and any other items to aid your child’s sensory play experience. Encouraging your child to tune into her senses and take pause to notice what she sees, smells, feels, hears or tastes is a wonderful way to practice being present, slowing down and connecting the brain and body. Although the winter weather outside may be frightful, you can create exploratory, playful experiences indoors that are delightful! Embrace this time of year as a season of slowing down and using sensory play to reflect and connect. If you or your child are struggling with frustration, anxiety or other issues that seem to be persistent, consider reaching out to us here at Butterfly Beginnings for play therapy and parenting support. Contact us and we’ll be happy to speak with you further.
- December 14, 2020
With the approaching holidays, I know parents are looking for gift ideas for their children. We have a saying in the play therapy world that we want to select toys not collect them. Today, I will be providing you with sixteen ideas to gift your children this holiday season to improve their emotional awareness, vocabulary, and regulation. We will include gifts for children of all ages. With the approaching holidays, I know parents are looking for gift ideas for their children. We have a saying in the play therapy world that we want to select toys not collect them. Today, I will be providing you with sixteen ideas to gift your children this holiday season to improve their emotional awareness, vocabulary, and regulation. We will include gifts for children of all ages. Books I’m going to start with one of my favorite children’s books. Drop me a comment and let me know what one of your memorable childhood stories are. The Invisible String This book is for children of all ages (and yes, adults too!). We feel a great sense of peace and joy realizing that we are all connected to the ones we love through The Invisible String. “That’s impossible!” the children insist, but still they want to know more. “What kind of string?” The answer is the simple truth that binds us all: An Invisible String made of love. Even though you can’t see it with your eyes, you can feel it deep in your heart, and know that you are always connected to the ones you love. Does everybody have an Invisible String? How far does it reach? Does it ever go away? The answers are revealed throughout the story. Kids will enjoy this book and discovering who they are connected to by invisible string. Red: A Crayon’s Story In the next book on our list a blue crayon mistakenly labeled as “red” suffers an identity crisis. Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall, is about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way. Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let’s draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and even the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries! In this humorous story, kids will learn the importance of being themselves. Breathe Like a Bear This book is a beautifully illustrated collection of mindfulness exercises designed to teach kids techniques for managing their bodies, breath, and emotions. Best of all, these 30 simple, short breathing practices and movements can be performed anytime, anywhere: in the car to the grocery store, during heavy homework nights at home, or even at a child’s desk at school. Breathe Like a Bear teaches kids how to flex their mindfulness muscles and be calm, focused, imaginative, energized and relaxed. Children who practice mindfulness are better able to self-regulate, have improved social skills… and demonstrate higher self-esteem. Who wouldn’t want to provide that as a gift for their kids? The Color Monster Unpack feelings with color in this book that helps kids identify emotions and feel more in control. One day, Color Monster wakes up feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place; he feels angry, happy, calm, sad, and scared all at once! To help him, a little girl shows him what each feeling means through color. As this adorable monster learns to sort and define his mixed-up emotions, he gains self-awareness and peace as a result. This book provides an approachable way for kids to identify feelings and allows for the understanding that one can have many emotions at once. Inside Out And of course, we cannot talk about feelings without including Inside Out. This is the perfect activity and book for kids looking to play out their emotions (card why play therapy). It is an engaging storybook and toy in one activity kit! My Busy Books offer full-page illustrations, a story, figurines, and a playmat that bring the characters to life and ignite your child’s imagination. Toys Hape Eggspressions Wooden Learning Toy with Illustrative Book Have a child whose emotions are feeling scrambled? Then this is the perfect toy for you! This set includes six expressive wooden eggs with an idea book. This toy promotes emotional maturity as children identify their feelings. It is recommended for ages 2 years and up. Kids love to name the emotions and put them on their stands. In the story, Humpty’s cousins are invited to a party but they need a plan to get over the castle wall. By sharing their feelings and working together, they find a happy solution. The Constructive Playthings Expression Babies Plush Dolls This is a Super Soft Baby Dolls Set of 6 for All Ages. These emotion baby dolls encourage children of all ages to identify and label common feelings. Each doll features a unique facial expression that represents an identifiable emotion. These cuddle-friendly soft fabric babies come with removable sleep sacks and promote self-regulation through active sensorial play. Learn hands on with your kids – these dolls enhance young children’s social-emotional learning through hands-on play. Educational toys like these help young children verbalize feelings while building a capacity to demonstrate empathy. Whatsitsface This stuffed animal comes in teddy bear, puppy, or kitten styles. This plush toy has 6 different emotion faces. Flip the face or twist to knob to change between, happy, sad, surprised, angry, laughing and sound asleep. This is a good tool for helping little ones better understand emotions. Kids in my practice love that the bear can feel what they feel. Education Emotions dice Smile, frown, and feel every emotion in between with these Soft Foam Emoji Cubes. This set of dice-style cubes comes […]
We all know how easily the holidays can sneak up on us and how quickly this time of year can become stressful instead of serene. During this year of pandemic, we are all feeling a whole new level of stress. Many families are struggling with how to minimize stress and maximize making it special for the children. I’d like to recommend 6 ways to help your family’s holiday go from frazzled to festive and fun with special attention to the limitations this year’s pandemic may be placing on your plans. 8 Ways to Help Your Family’s Holiday Go From Frazzled to Festive & Fun Don’t overcompensate. It can be tempting during this time of pandemic when travel is limited and party gatherings are ill advised to over-do the efforts to make the holidays special. This is only going to cause stress for parents and for the kids. Keep it simple. Children do not need over-the-top everything that shines and sparkles to have a fun holiday season.Cookie baking & decorating from a distance. Organize one afternoon with Grandma, Aunt Jenny and Cousin Sam over Zoom to bake and decorate cookies. Send out cookie-baking-decorating kits to your distant family members and set the date and time. Share in the process of mixing the dough, enjoying the aroma when they are in the oven and then have a show-n-tell of everyone’s decorated cookies.Establish a daily holiday routine. We all learned during last spring’s quarantine how things can go haywire when there is no set schedule. Keep a rhythm for your family’s mealtimes and bedtime. Create special but simple rituals. Anchor mealtimes with the lighting of a candle. Each evening before bed, cuddle up on the couch together and watch a holiday special with hot cocoa. Create simple ornaments for the tree together out of household items – get creative!Allow children to create special holiday door decorations for their bedroom doors. They might want to make their door look like a giant wrapped holiday gift or maybe they will want to use the door for a pin-up-collage of holiday drawings and décor. This will add cheer to the bedtime routine as well.Gather holiday children’s books in a basket and enjoy reading together. It’s always a good idea for parents and children to share in special story time for fun and special connecting. Having favorite holiday books in a special holiday basket beside the family room couch that can be carried to bed at night is a good way to ensure your holiday reading and snuggle time is a daily activity.Winter sensory scavenger hunts. Grab some index cards and a marker and create some sensory clue-cards that say: something that crunches, something that sparkles, something that jingles, something that rattles, something that shines, something that is smooth, something that is prickly, something that smells yummy, something that tastes sweet. Toss the cards in a holiday box or basket and have everyone take a turn pulling a card and let the whole family race to go and find something and return to home-base to share what they found.Go curb-caroling. Take the family for a caroling stroll along the curb of your neighborhood. You might want to rehearse just a bit on the songs you will sing but keep it simple and fun. Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman are some good simple songs to start with. Take along some battery-operated candles and put on some Santa hats. Take the family dog along if you like and enjoy the fresh air while serenading your neighbors from a safe social distance. There are so many ways to make this holiday season both simple and special and take the stress level down from frazzled to fun. Making lasting memories need not be complicated. All you need is a little planning, some inspiration, a bit of creativity and a focus on simple connecting activities that will bring the family together during this holiday season. If your family is experiencing high levels of stress or just having a tough time getting along sometimes working with a professional who specializes in helping children and families can be helpful. Please feel free to contact us today so we can discuss how play therapy or family support services may be just the ticket to getting some relief.
- November 30, 2020
We have all heard about support and therapy groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or grief survivors. But what about kids, can they benefit from group therapy? And what kinds of groups are available? First, though we should talk about what exactly is group therapy? Group therapy involves a therapist working with a small select group of clients. Groups are often designed to target specific problems such as anxiety, depression, or eating disorders. Other groups focus on improving social skills, or helping clients cope with a range of challenges such as low self-esteem, emotional regulation, shyness or a recent loss. Group therapy gives therapists an opportunity to see how kids relate to one another in a group setting. For kids struggling with social anxiety, poor social skills, or inattentiveness, the group setting offers the therapist a chance to help kids work through their obstacles with other kids as they occur. Groups can be limited with a fixed number of sessions, or ongoing. There are open groups where people come in and out, or closed groups where the participants do not change. In addition to providing support, groups are designed to teach and instill proven strategies for coping with specific problems. Drop me a comment and let me know your favorite way to play with your child. Research indicates that group therapy is very effective for children. Children this age have a limited understanding of emotions and can often be very reactive. Guided interactions with peers can increase emotional intelligence and develop social skills that are critical developmental goals for this age. Studies show kids treated with group therapy were better off at the end of treatment than 73% of those who were not. Since children have a natural ability to express themselves through play, groups for children involve various forms of play into the session. This may include spontaneous play or structured play activities such as role-playing, drawing, or board games. Universality Kids may feel shy or awkward when joining a group, but group therapy has benefits individual counseling does not. Children often feel their problems are unique to them and this can lead to feelings of loneliness. Being a part of a group where the kids have similar problems help children feel validated, supported, and understood. Groups help kids feel heard and known. I like to start my groups off with get-to-know-you activities, so members can begin to trust each other. Sharing Groups also help kids learn to talk openly about their struggles and learn from peer modeling. Kids often feel overwhelmed by their emotional responses to stressors. Groups offer kids a place to vent their emotions, connect with other kids, and empathize with one another, decreasing their stress level. While participating in the group activities, children will be able to appropriately express feelings that they would have difficulty expressing to adults. Group therapy provides an opportunity for kids to practice verbalizing and exploring their emotions with their peers. This helps kids build effective communication tools to use when they are in distress. I have role-played how to express emotions appropriately in groups and taught skills such as I statements. One of my former child clients, now a teenager, recently told me how much he enjoyed our weekly group meetings. He described how we would be talking while doing activities and it didn’t feel like therapy. He explained how he received help with his emotions and felt like he could be an open book. Social Skills Groups provide a safe and structured environment that allows kids to have positive social interactions with peers that create supportive relationships. Groups provide a setting in which children are able to learn through social interactions. The therapist models active listening, providing constructive feedback, and offering support. Group members also provide feedback on social behaviors. Kids don’t have a ton of opportunities to get meaningful feedback on social skills in the moment. Through group work, kids learn to empathize with, support, and care for their peers. This translates to positive friendship skills in their own communities. Over time group members pick up on these behaviors and implement them both in the group setting and in their everyday lives. Self-Esteem Group therapy provides a platform for children to help others. The power of helping others is therapeutic and enhances self-esteem and self-worth. Working through complex emotional issues with a peer group helps kids learn new ways of relating to others. Through group work, kids find their voices and practice new skills in a safe environment with feedback from a therapist. Coping Skills Through the use of structured activities, the therapist teaches proven strategies to cope with specific problems. Group members will have the opportunity to practice these skills and receive feedback. With time group members begin incorporating these strategies into their daily lives. I encourage members of my groups to teach these skills to parents or siblings, so the whole family can practice together. Group therapy is an effective form of treatment for children. It can be done alone or in combination with individual therapy. While individual therapy helps kids explore their emotions, responses to stress, and steps they can take to improve their emotional wellbeing, it doesn’t address the specific difficulties kids face in the classroom, on the playing field, or in small groups. As a school-based therapist, I received feedback from multiple teachers that after participating in group therapy, the participants’ behavioral issues in class decreased. Parents reported improvements in communication around emotional expression and less fights with siblings. While, the kids seemed happier and formed more meaningful relationships. Butterfly Beginnings Counseling is currently accepting enrollments for groups beginning in 2021. For more information click HERE.
- November 23, 2020
Personality priorities, the most important way our personality strives for belonging. There are four types: comfort, pleasing, control, and superiority. Which one are you and which one are your kids and why does this matter? Let’s start by breaking this down a bit. Personality is defined as the characteristic sets of behaviors, cognitions, and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors. Our pattern of actions, thoughts, and feelings from DNA and the world around us. Priorities are actions that arrange items or activities in order of importance. What we give value to. Leading us to personality priorities as the important behaviors, thoughts, and feelings in our attempts to belong. There are four types of personality priorities and neither is better or worse than the other. They all have positive and negative qualities. We can determine our personality priority by looking at what we desire to achieve and more importantly what we desire to avoid. Comfort These individuals desire amazingly enough- comfort, along with pleasure and ease. They enjoy being pampered. They wish to avoid stress, expectations, work, and responsibility. Other may describe them as irritating or lazy. However, their strengths are that they are easy-going, they mind their own business, get along with others, and are empathetic. Unfortunately, they often do not live up to their potential, do not complete tasks, and are undervalued. These kids are the ones who avoid homework- often causing stress for the parents. They may complete the bare minimum tasks when it comes to chores and are resistant to change. They also have few demands and are predictable. Pleasers These kids, like myself, are working hard to achieve the needs of others. We avoid rejection and conflict. People are happy at first with our willingness to meet their needs, however this need for approval becomes annoying. Parents enjoy the way pleasers follow the rules. Teachers appreciate our willingness to volunteer for tasks. We are nice, reliable, and helpful to our friends. However, we are constantly worried about other’s expectations of us and consequently do not meet our own needs. Kids who are pleasers will complete their sibling’s chores and take the dog on an extra walk. They will also loose sleep over worrying about a fight with a friend or take on so many responsibilities they don’t have time just to play. Control This personality priority has two subtypes: control of self and control of everything. The goal of this type is control of self, others, and situations. They want to avoid humiliation and surprises. These kids are your team captains, as they are natural leaders. They are productive, assertive, and responsible. Lacking spontaneity, they thrive on routine. They may have diminished creativity and fun. These kids will get in trouble for bossing their friends and siblings. Parents will feel challenged and frustrated because they will dig in their heels and be stubborn to get what they want. Superiority Our final personality priority type also has two subtypes of achieving and outdoing. Their goal is to be more competent, smart, good, useful and better than others. They desire to avoid feeling meaningless and inferior. They will be competitive in whatever they engage in, academics, athletics, art, or music. They are organized and productive but may also be overwhelmed and over-worked. Trying hard is natural for them and they tend to be perfectionistic. These kids will try over and over again to get things just so. They may bully others to feeling inferior and inadequate. Imagine a control parent and a control kids, I would guess this household has a lot of power struggles. A control parent and a comfort kid may also create a great deal of conflict. Two superiority personalities will constantly try to one-up each other, competing for who is the best. Keep these thoughts in mind the next time you have a conflict with your child. Try addressing them a different way, thinking about what the desire to achieve and avoid. You can tell a comfort kid life will be a lot easier if we work together to pick up and then relax for the evening. Approach a superiority child by telling them they are the best dishwasher in the house. The way we talk to children has a big impact on their willingness to comply. If your child continues to struggle or need extra support, please contact me to see how I can help.