Friday, December 13, 2013

“When Do Children Need Psychological Testing”


Many parents have heard the term “evaluation” or “assessment” or told to get their child “tested.” The challenge is many parents do not know exactly what that means or when testing is necessary. My broad answer to the big question of “when do children need psychological testing,” is whenever you see your child struggle in school or home, either behaviorally, socially or academically. There are many different evaluations, and I can provide a general guideline to what makes a good evaluation.

There are many different types of evaluations that can be offered. Many people are surprised how lengthy an AD/HD evaluation is because some clinicians and doctors make a diagnosis off of a quick questionnaire. However, there are many different reasons a child could be presenting with AD/HD symptoms, such as not being challenged in class, emotional difficulties, a learning difference, or adjusting to a difficult situation in their lives. To make a true diagnosis, an evaluation should include a thorough interview, including developmental, behavioral, and school history. The assessment should also include an assessment of cognitive ability to demonstrate how a child processes information. In addition, measures of executive functioning, measures of emotional functioning, and a continuous performance test to examine a child’s sustained attention and impulse control is needed to have a full picture of a child’s functioning. A questionnaire alone will show if a person “meets criteria” for an attention deficit disorder, but does not look at why the child is presenting with the symptoms.

Another evaluation people often hear about is a Psychoeducational or Neuropsychological Evaluation. These types of evaluations are typically provided when someone is concerned about a learning difference. Parents should ensure the person providing the testing examines more than just academic and cognitive ability, but thoroughly examines a person’s overall processing ability, attention, and emotional functioning.

When a parent has a child who presents with symptoms of an Autism Spectrum Disorder, they often do not know where to start. There are important elements that should be included in an Autism Spectrum evaluation to ensure that the clinician truly understands the child. Having a child’s pragmatic and social language assessed is imperative for an Autism Spectrum Evaluation, and having a Speech Language Pathologist, who is an expert in the area of communication, included in the evaluation is preferred. Another important feature a parent should look for when setting up an appointment for an Autism Spectrum Evaluation is if their child’s emotional and behavioral functioning will be assessed via a behavior observation test. These are just two key elements for an Autism Spectrum Evaluation.

Many mental health practices offer a variety of evaluations, which can make it overwhelming for a parent to decide which facility to use. Having a basic understanding of what makes a good evaluation can allow a parent to ask the right questions to ensure their child is getting the best service available. When done correctly, psychological testing can help a parent get a good “overall” look at their child’s emotional, intellectual, and developmental makeup, and also provide information to direct the best counseling, medication, intervention and/or accommodations in school so the child has the best chance at succeeding in life. Before getting your child evaluated, do your research, ask around, and interview professionals so you are confident in their ability.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I want to see a therapist, but where do I start?!


Finding the right therapist can sometimes be a very overwhelming task. Not only are there hundreds of therapists in the Houston area, but each therapist has a different title, different license, and different areas of specialty. What does it all mean? The first place to start when selecting the right therapist is to understand therapists’ qualifications and specialty areas. The following is a description of therapists’ licenses, their qualifications, and the clients they are most likely to work with.
LPC- Licensed Professional Counselor
Education Requirements: Master’s degree or higher
Level of experience required: 3,000 hours of supervised experience
Services offered may include:
·      Individual Counseling
·      Group Counseling
·      Marriage Counseling
·      Family Counseling
·      Chemical dependency counseling
·      Rehabilitation counseling
·      Education counseling
·      Career development counseling
·      Sexual issues counseling
·      Psychotherapy
·      Play therapy
·      Diagnostic assessment
LMFT- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Education Requirements: Master’s degree or higher
Level of experience required: 3,000 hours of supervised experience
Services offered may include:
·      Marriage therapy
·      Sex therapy
·      Family therapy
·      Child therapy
·      Play therapy
·      Individual therapy
·      Divorce therapy
·      Mediation
·      Group therapy
·      Chemical dependency therapy
·      Rehabilitation therapy
·      Diagnostic assessment
LCSW- Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Education Requirements: Master’s Degree or higher
Level of Experience required: 2 years of supervised experience
Services offered may include:
·      Interviewing
·      Assessment
·      Planning
·      Intervention
·      Evaluation
·      Case management
·      Mediation
·      Counseling
·      Supportive counseling
·      Direct practice
·      Information and referral
·      Problem solving
·      Consultation
·      Education
·      Advocacy
Interns and Associates- (LPC-Intern, LMFT-A, LCSW-Intern)
Education Requirements: Master’s Degree or higher
Level of Experience: Varies (most are working towards 2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised experience)
Services offered may include: Any of the above mentioned areas within their license title. Most interns have counseling training and experience within their Master’s degree program, as well as their experience acquired during internship. Interns meet with their supervisor, a licensed clinician within their field, every week, or every other week, to discuss their cases and receive guidance.
Information provided by: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/counselor/

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tools for Back to School



It seems that as school supplies begin to line the shelves of our local stores, and Back To School advertisements begin, the “back to school jitters” often invite themselves into our homes.  Although the start of a brand new school year can be exciting, this time of year can also bring some not-so-welcome changes to lives of students and parents alike. In general, there are several things that parents can implement into their daily routine to help ensure a successful school year for their children.

Communication: Even in this age of technology, it is important to balance communication with your child as well as your child’s teachers and school staff. The younger the student, the more interaction a parent will have with their children’s teachers.  It is a good rule of thumb that as a child gets older, he or she will find more success in using their parents’ guidance while approaching teachers on their own.  Parents can model effective communication for their child and also follow up to be sure that the desired result was achieved.  Important things to help students consider are appropriate communication styles as well as etiquette for phone, email and other technology based interaction.

Organization and Preparation: Assisting and teaching children to organize and prepare themselves for school and other activities will help them feel ready and less anxious.  Teaching a child to prepare for school the night before by setting clothes out, surveying their backpack for completed homework and signed papers, as well as making a plan for lunch, will save time the next morning and help a child to feel most prepared as they lay their head on their pillow each night.  At least a couple of chaotic mornings each school year are inevitable, but having a place for and knowing where each school item can be found, can help for a smooth transition each day.

Routine and Schedule: Putting in place a set routine and schedule will help create calm evenings and may even multiply a family’s time. Children and adults alike, benefit from knowing what is coming up each day and what the basic overview of the week looks like. Creating a family calendar that can be put in a common area for all to see is a tool that works for many families. All of the recurring events like school and weekly extra-curricular activities are the staples on the calendar, but added to each week are the special occasions or scheduled tests and appointments. Be sure to schedule a time to go over this calendar as a family at the beginning of each week. 

Monitor sleeping and eating habits:  Children are sure to be set up for success when they are sent to school with enough sleep and good fuel in their bodies. In this age of busy schedules, it is often easier to gain precious time by turning to convenience foods and delaying bedtime by an hour or two, or more. Although, it is important for children to learn flexibility and that schedules change from time to time, establishing a bedtime as well as planning a family menu as a part of the weekly schedule will help students get to school on the right foot and ready to learn.  Another culprit to delayed bedtimes and difficulty in sleeping are those electronic devices.  Many parents consider setting a “bedtime” for electronic devices as well.

Special Time: Even the most well-oiled family machines, with the most organized schedule in place, can find themselves feeling like they are missing out on quality time with one another.  Many families find success in adding two very important items to their weekly schedule/routine: one-on-one and family time. Depending on the number of members in your family and what the activity is, one-on-one time may need to be scheduled every other week.  The great thing about this calendar entry is that it can be whatever a parent and child want it to be, a dinner date with each child or even 10 minutes a day of reading or uninterrupted time to talk.  The same goes for family time. Planning an outing or even a game or movie night at home is a plan that works to help many families stay connected in this time of busy schedules.

Although equipping families with general tools will result in a successful start to the school year, sometimes there are specific concerns that can affect many children at home and at school. 

Whether the result of a move or simply moving to the next grade level, changing schools can be a difficult adjustment for children. Many students feel that as soon as they have learned the hallway map and the rules of the cafeteria, it is time to switch schools. As with any big change, the best thing we can do for our children is help them prepare for the change and encourage them along the way.  Equipping older students with a school map and bell schedule can be useful. Encouraging students of all ages to ask questions and find a peer role model who seems to know the ropes, are useful tools for students of all ages.

Regardless of whether a child is a veteran student in a school, or it is their first year on their campus, many children experience anxiety about school performance. Sometimes this anxiety is unfounded because the student has always performed well, but some children find school very difficult.  It is important to equip students early on with tools that will increase both their confidence and performance at school.  In addition to teachers sharing tutoring information in class, schools often give an overview of their tutoring policy and schedule online.  When a plan that includes utilization of teacher websites and email addresses, sets of textbooks for use at home, and implementation of organization is put in place early on in the year, a child’s anxiety often decreases.  It is important to let students know that we believe that they will be successful, and part of that success is assuring them that we have put a plan in place to handle the difficult times as well.

Seeing friends again after a long summer is often one of things that children look forward to.  It doesn’t take long however, for our children to be faces with the children who are not so easy to get along with. Even more common, are the very typical, every day friendship issues that every student has to learn to maneuver.  Even from an early age, it is important for parents to help their children learn how to work through difficult friendship issues.  Empowering our children with advice of how to compromise, and effectively communicate is a life lesson that begins in the early years of school, but is a gift that lasts throughout adulthood. Of course, when the situation is more serious in nature and there is concern that a child is being put at risk, adult intervention is mandatory.

It seems that the older children get, the more demanding their schedules become. This is true in school, but also in extra-curricular activities, where we find that very busy extra-curricular schedules begin to have an impact on children’s preparation and success in school. Less sleep, less time for homework and studying, less free time, and less balanced meals can all be a result of afterschool activities.  Many parents want to support their child in their extracurricular sport or activity, but also help them succeed academically.  The best way to do this is to equip children with preparation and balance.  Just as there will be a long-term benefit from learning social interaction skills, children will also benefit from learning time management and prioritization skills.  Involving students in schedule making and time management as it pertains to his or her life, is a useful exercise.

In all, the best thing parents and teachers can do for a child as we begin a new year is give them the tools they need to be successful.  While the strategies and implementations above will provide a structure of success to any family, the truth is that no one can do it alone. Our children will benefit the most when teachers, parents, mentors, school staff and other influential adults band together to equip and positively influence a child to create success in his or her future.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Parenting in the Midst of Divorce

by: Pam Adams, LCSW-Intern
Supervised by: Stephanie Washington MSW, Ed.D., LCSW-S

Breaking up a marriage is hard for everyone.  Kids can feel hit the hardest by the end of their parents’ love relationship.  Some children are asked to be peacemakers for fighting spouses, at the same time they are grieving a parent who has suddenly moved out.  Other children may have to deal with parents who out of the blue can’t cope with everyday tasks. 
While a parent is in the midst of a divorce amid a rollercoaster of emotions and distractions, it can be hard to remember to look after their childs needs, especially emotional ones.     
Helpful Hints for Divorced Parents:
1.     With the loss of one parent from the home, your child needs structure because to them everything seems to be falling apart.  Your child needs acceptance and assurance that they still have a solid family.  The key is to maintain normal routines, a predictable family life and a sense that their life will not continue to change on them.  Discipline needs to be consistent and with positive consequences for good behavior. 

2.     Children frequently believe that they are somehow to blame for the divorce.  You need to reassure them that the divorce is between you and your ex and about that relationship only.  Tell them that they are blameless and the divorce is not about anything they have done or not done.

3.     Avoid making the child the messenger between you and your ex.  This causes a child a great deal of emotional stress.  It also forces them to deal with a situation that you and your ex could not handle. 

4.     Do not allow your child to be the person you confide in.  If you need someone to talk to, either talk to a friend or if you feel you need more help, find a therapist for yourself.  Your child needs to be able to be a child and not handle adult problems. 

5.     Try to understand your child.  After a divorce, children may be in emotional turmoil.  Listen to what they say.  Don’t tell them how they should feel or think.  As hard as it may be, avoid criticizing your ex in front of your child.  Respond specifically to what they are telling you.  “It sounds like you are feeling mad about your dad’s new girlfriend?”  Stay focused on your child’s feelings, not yours. 

6.     If you feel that you have made mistakes with your children during the divorce process, it is o.k. to identify to them what you did wrong and apologize for it to your child.  Saying  you are sorry goes a long way with children in terms of healing.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Surviving the Loss of a Child

by Pam Adams, Licensed Clinical Social Worker Intern
Supervised by Stephanie Washington, MSW, Ed.D., LCSW-S

Hopefully you have never experienced the death of a child.  But there are some families that are hit with such a loss. 
Whether the child dies as a result of a car accident, drug overdose, serious illness or other cause, the loss of a child is extremely painful  and unlike the loss of any other person in life.  Parents feel that a part of them has died and been ripped away from them. 
The first reaction of parents is to feel numb.  They don’t feel pain, but they don’t feel pleasure either – more of a sense of deadness.  They go through life doing daily chores as if they are on autopilot.    Slowly the pain of grief creeps into life.   
Soon parents find themselves in a period of acute grieving, where the emotional pain is very great.  Very little has meaning to the parent.  Some of the symptoms of this stage are shock, depression, anger, guilt, difficulty making decisions, trouble with tasks requiring thinking, sleeping and eating problems.  This stage tends to last about a year or can take longer.Finally, the parents begin to adapt to life without their child.  One part of this involves things like deciding what to do with their clothes, but yet keeping special items of the child’s to preserve memories and a continuing sense of connection even while living without the child.
            Things to Remember:
1.      Grief of a parent is a long process.  Wherever you are in the process is o.k., it is where you are.  (Ignore the comments of others who believe you should “snap out of it” or “you should be better by now”.) 

2.     Connect with people with whom you are able to be honest and still be accepted.  Grief is too much to bear alone.  Sometimes parents in your situation are the best support.  Compassionate Friends is a good support group for parents who have lost a child. They have numerous locations in Houston and the surrounding area.

3.     Expect a roller coaster of emotions.  At one moment you will be composed, but in the next minute you are hit by a memory and are sobbing.  Mourning parents easily feel that they are crazy because of the up and down nature of their emotions.  You are not crazy; you are grieving your child.

4.     Allow all your feelings to emerge.  Don’t try to stuff them even if they don’t seem acceptable.  Sometimes parents find it helpful keep a journal and write down their feelings as they go through the grief process.

5.    Feel free to see a counselor if you are concerned about yourself or are disturbed by your grief process.  The counselor can reassure you as to what is normal or help you if you feel stuck.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Power of Play: A Parent’s Guide to Engaging your Children

By: Kristin O’Connor, M.S., LMFT-A
Supervised by: Judy DeTrude, PhD, LPC-S, LMFT-S
Play comes very naturally for children as they are innately imaginative and creative; however, it wasn’t until relatively recently that therapists and researchers started to view a child’s play as a form of emotional communication, rather than just a creative outlet. Researchers and therapists have found that children often use play to sort through their past experiences, learn about future possibilities, and most importantly, express their emotions. Play is the language of children.
This new understanding of a child’s play has many implications for parents. Learning to engage your child in play correctly could open lines of communication long before communication and emotion regulation skills are fully developed. So what is the right way to play with your child? Are there wrong ways to play? What can result from playing with your child? The following is a list of do’s and don’ts to enable you to enhance the quality of play with your child:
Do: Let your child lead the play
Don’t: Correct your child, or try to teach your child “proper” ways to play 
This can be the hardest skill for parents. Parents tend to naturally lead, direct, and teach their children. While this is important, playtime is not the time for parents to be in charge. The best, and most therapeutic playtime for children is when the child feels that they are totally in control. This type of play empowers children to feel confident about their decisions, accepted by their parents, and proud of their ideas. Try to avoid asking any and all questions during play to eliminate the possibility of your child feeling like they are being judged, or that they are doing something wrong.
Do: Be fully present with your child
Don’t: Get distracted during play, be on the phone, or go in and out of the room 
The best way to remain fully present during play is to designate an amount of time during the day that is dedicated solely for playing with your child (10-15 min.) During this time, try to limit distractions and remain engaged.
Do: Reflect your child’s emotions
Don’t: Tell your child how they should feel about certain toys or play scenarios 
Reflecting your child’s emotions is extremely therapeutic. Examples of reflecting are: “Wow! You are so excited about building that tall tower!” or “You are very frustrated about not getting that block to balance.” Don’t worry if you are unsure about exactly what your child is feeling. Do your best to label your child’s emotions and allow them to correct you if needed. Keep at it! This skill not only allows your child to feel understood, but it also helps them learn how to label their feelings.
Do: Engage in imaginative and creative play with your child’s direction
Don’t: Let creative play feel foreign or awkward, you are speaking your child’s language! 
It is easy for adults to feel uncomfortable while engaging in imaginative play. Sometimes children will ask their parents to play a certain character, act as a figurine, or put on a play, requiring parents to be creative and imaginative. Just go with it! Remember that you are speaking your child’s language, and he/she loves spending this quality time with you. Allow your child to direct your imaginative play. Try not to ask questions, instead, do your best to interpret what you think he or she might want. If you get it wrong, allow them to correct you.
While there is no wrong way to play, using the 4 do’s above can greatly enhance the quality of your play, strengthen your connection with your child, and build their self-confidence and self-esteem. For more information about playtime with children or play therapy, give us a call!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Existential Therapy: What is it and is it a good fit for me?

by Jamie Williams, M.A. LPC-Intern
Supervised by Beverly Newman, LPC-S, LSSP, RPT-S

Existential therapy takes an entirely different approach to counseling and is based on the premise that people are free and are responsible for their own actions and choices. There are no set techniques that are used in this type of therapy and the counselor’s role is to grasp from many different theories and use techniques as needed to fit each individual client. The main assumption behind this type of therapy is that people are free to make their own decisions and guide their own lives. The existential approach is based on the theory that life circumstances are what people make of them and that people are not simply “victims of circumstance,” but rather the authors of their own lives (Corey, 2009).

The main goal in Existential Therapy is to reflect on current situations and problems, realize different options to current problems or life situations, and to choose an alternative. Often, when someone is experiencing an issue or symptom it is because they have fallen into a rut and "accepted" their life for what it is without making any changes. Through therapy, the client can increase awareness of different alternatives to their life and realize that if they make different choices, they have the ability to not only change that issue/symptom, but also shape other areas in their life as well.

In the Existential approach, it is presumed that psychopathology, ineffective functioning, and problems arise from people surrendering control of their own lives and submissively accepting circumstances in their lives without accepting responsibility. A major theme of this form of therapy is freedom; that we are responsible for our own lives, actions and choices. When someone has evaded their commitment to choosing how to live their life, they develop existential guilt that arises from feelings of incompleteness and the fact they are not living their lives to the full capacity.

The client/therapist relationship is of utmost importance in this form of therapy. The therapist strives to be him or herself, and offers honesty and integrity to the counseling relationship. Through modeling authentic behavior, the therapist invites the client to grow and to not be guarded. In the initial phase of change, the therapist works with the client to identify the client’s assumptions about the world. In this beginning phase, clients are asked to question themselves and their life, which is often challenging for clients. In the middle phase of change, clients are asked to examine their value system. This is done with the hope of the client re-evaluating his or her life and re-structuring his or her values and life choices. The final stage of change is action. In this stage, clients are encouraged to take what they have learned about themselves and their reality and put it into practice to make their life what they want it to be (Corey, 2009).
    
Existential therapy can be used to treat a variety of presenting issues and can be utilized both brief and long-term therapy. If you are interested in learning more about Existential Therapy and believe you may benefit from it, please contact us to set up an appointment with a trained therapist.

References:
Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (8th ed.). Belmont, CA:
Thomson and Brooks/Cole.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Teaching Children to Manage Anxiety

by Courtney Suddath, M.A., LSSP, LPC

Like adults, it is inevitable that children will experience anxiety from time to time.  Anxiety can be situational in nature, or it can be a general feeling of worry that spans across situations and environments. When children are experiencing anxiety, a common response for adults to have is to help them avoid what they are afraid of or worrying about. While this may provide temporary relief, the feelings of worry and anxiety are likely to return.
While helping children gain relief from their anxiety, there are a few things to should keep in mind.  First, it is important to acknowledge a child’s fear and assure them that we understand that this is a real fear for him.  Next, it is important to remind children that adults are in charge of safety. Sometimes it is helpful to go through a list of adults that the child is often with, to assure them that those adults are in charge of keeping him safe. This list of safe adults can often provide assurance  that he is taken care of.

Defining strategies for anxiety reduction with children can also provide relief.  One strategy that is often helpful is rationalization. Rationalization encourages a child to determine how likely his fear is to come true. This helps him recognize that often he is worried about something that rarely happens.  If it is a fear that is more common, we can help a child rationalize what plans will be in place to keep him safe, if the worst case scenario happens.  It is important to be aware if a child begins to avoid situations that cause him anxiety. Using strategies and reassurance as a child moves through anxiety is critical to helping children manage their reactions.
Finally, after a child has moved through the difficult moment, it is very important to help him celebrate his success!  This is a great time to reflect on how hard it felt to face what was making him feel anxious, and how amazing it is that he did it and is okay now. The goal is that after some practice, the same situation will be easier next time.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Negotiating Styles

by Jamie Williams, M.A. LPC-I
Supervised by Beverly Newman, LPC-S, LSSP, RPT-S

As a therapist, I find that many children and adolescents I work with have difficulty in problem solving with others. This not only causes distress for the child or adolescent, but also makes it much more difficult for them to make and keep friends. Conflict arises when two people have different opinions about an issue or issues. Disagreements are a natural part of any relationship.  One of the most beneficial skills that I aim to teach many of my clients is the skill of negotiation. Negotiation is a special skill from which everyone benefits.  Your ability to negotiate will allow you to get what you want without alienating or manipulating others, possibly by compromise, and reach a mutually agreeable solution.

In providing therapeutic services for children and adolescents, I have found that most fall into one of four categories: Talker, Aggressor, Preparer, or Listener.  There is no one best style to use in all situations in which you are negotiating. You do not have a single specific style for dealing with all negotiations.  People are able to use all four styles.  Many of us, however, rely on and get comfortable using one of the styles more often than the others. 

Read the descriptions of each style below to find out which style is most like you. Once you are able to identify which negotiation style fits you most accurately, you have a much better chance of learning to use your communication strengths and weaknesses to use the process of negotiation to benefit everyone involved.

***Talker***
People with a Talker Negotiation Process Style prefer to talk through the negotiation process and to dictate the pace of the process. They prefer to talk rather than listen, and they rely on their conversational skills to try to control the negotiating process. They tend to rely more on emotions and gut feelings than on logic and analysis.  In the end, they need to feel good about the end results.                         

***Aggressor***           
People with an Aggressor Negotiating Process Style rely on facts and logic to accomplish their purpose and meet their needs.  They have clear goals and tend to try to try to steam roll others with little regard to their emotions.  They can become aggressive if pushed in the negotiation process. They are primarily concerned about succeeding in getting what they want out of the negotiation process. They like to be in control of the process and will do what they need to in order to win.                   

***Preparer***                      
People with a Preparer Negotiation Process Style believe that proof of what is right will often determine the outcome of the negotiation.  They believe that if you cannot prove your point logically, then why even negotiate.  They have little need for emotions and feel that emotions play no part in the negotiation process.  They like to be prepared and believe that the best prepared people win in the negotiation process.       

***Listener***
People with a Listener Negotiation Process Style usually prefer listening to talking or arguing.  They will gladly accept assistance from other people during the process because they do not enjoy the negotiation process.  They are guided by their value system, and the process is often more important to them than the end results.  They respect the rules of the negotiating process and desire win-win results.

To learn more about the above mentioned negotiation styles please refer to Self-Regulation for Kids K-12: Strategies for Calming Minds and Behavior by Patricia K. Tollison, Katherine O. Synatschk, and Gaea Logan. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Parenting Ideas

by Tiffany Noll LPC-Intern
(Supervised by Sarah Kinsworthy, Ph.D., LPC-S, RPT)
Speaking as a fellow parent, it is our responsibility to raise our children to become reasonably responsible, productive and positive members of society. And unfortunately there is no book or manual on how to do this; we just have to figure it out as we go. So how do we develop rules, discipline, and communication to feel as though we have done our best to grow our children into the people we think they should be? This is by no means an all inclusive book or manual on how to be the perfect or ideal parent, but here are some tips that may help guide you in the right direction.
Children need clear, specific and consistent rules and boundaries. Though we feel our children hate to follow the rules and resist against them, deep down our children crave them. But how is it that what they show us on the outside is so different from what they feel on the inside? It’s because rules and boundaries provide structure, they teach about responsibility, respect, and independence. They teach our children the foundation of what their entire lives will revolve around. Without rules children can feel a sense of chaos and unpredictability. But be careful to not go overboard with the number and extensive details of the rules; make as few rules as possible and be clear and concise. Choose associated consequences that you will be willing or able to enforce. Without follow through and consistency, children are likely to learn that rules don’t have to be followed because nothing bad will happen. This is creating a false sense of reality. In the world outside of the home, there are rules that have to be followed and consequences given to those who break them. Take the time to clearly explain expectations, rules and associated consequences, and have them repeat in their own words to ensure understanding. If you find it to be appropriate, even include your children in the rule making process. They may be more likely to want to abide by the rules if they can be a part of the decision making process.

Although this may seem more difficult as your child gets older, take the time to encourage communication between your child and yourself. The positive communication between a parent and child helps them build self esteem and feelings of encouragement, understanding and acceptance. Show interest in your child’s interests and experiences, even when they are different than your own. When you allow and participate in conversation with your child about their lives, you are encouraging them to learn more about themselves and lessons from their own experiences. In listening to our children talk, we often want to give advice, criticism or directions on how we would handle particular situations, but try to avoid this as much as possible. Ask them what they think, problem solve with them, show them some respect. They are their own person, and they have their own ideas. Our children will only learn to solve problems by having their own experiences, making their own mistakes and learning from their own lessons. As parents, we often want to protect our children by teaching them from our own experiences and lessons, but the best and only way they will learn is to experience it themselves. Encourage and allow your children to have their own interests and ideas, and encourage them to keep open communication with you about these things. This shows your children than you are interested in them, accept them for who they are, and that they are unique and important individuals.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer is Coming! Yikes!

Summer will be here in just a couple of weeks.  While it feels good to have a more relaxed time for everyone; as a parent, the implications of children not being in school can sneak up on you.  When your children are out of school, what are you going to do with them?  The immediate temptation can be to put them in as many activities as you can afford and keep them nonstop busy.  However, that may not be the best way to go for children and their parents.  Sometimes it is best to come up with a balance of child activities and family activities for the summer.  Relaxation as well as activity make for a good combination for summer.
                  Ideas for Summer Time Activities:
1.     Summer camps involving art, sports, dance or whatever activity your child is most interested in.

2.     Visiting museums as a family – The Childrens Museum, The Fine Arts Museum, the Health Museum, the Natural Science Museum including the Butterfly area.

3.     Family trip to a waterpark - Splashtown, Splashway Water Park in Sheridan, TX (low cost),  Discovery Green – water playground.

4.     Reading books together with children