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3 Ways Your Attachment with Your Child Is Impacting Their Behavior

About 70 years ago, the psychiatrist Dr. John Bowlby made a surprising revelation about mental health. He stated that it is dependent on each of us experiencing a “warm, intimate and continuous relationship” in which both child and caregiver “find satisfaction and enjoyment.” Dr. Bowlby’s findings led him to develop the science of attachment– which offers an explanation of relationships patterns and, coincidentally, our children’s behavior. 

What is Attachment Theory? 

Bowlby believed that children are born seeking and attempting to remain close to attachment figures. From a purely evolutionary perspective, this makes complete sense. Stick close to someone who is more clever and bigger than you and you’re more likely to be fed and protected. 

An adult who serves as a playmate, disciplinarian, or teacher isn’t necessarily a primary attachment figure, though they could be. So what does it take to be an attachment figure? The adult’s presence in the first few years of the child’s life certainly helps a lot, since relationship patterns start to take hold right away in life. An attachment that is secure and healthy ultimately results from a caregiver responding with sensitivity and consistency. For me, the epitome of a secure attachment is a young toddler playing independently while his mother looks on. Every few minutes he wanders back to his mother to show her something or engage her in the play. This serves as an “emotional refueling” before he goes back to his independent play. When he is distressed from an accidental fall he, again, returns to his mother and finds comfort in her warm reassurance. 

Understanding Attachment Can Change Behavior

  1. Interactions will seem smoother. Children naturally want to help, adopt your values, and follow your instructions. Yet, injuries in the attachment may impact these natural tendencies. Instead, you may get what appears to be disobedience, disrespect, and emotional explosiveness. The quality of the relationship will play out over and over in every interaction. If your child struggles to follow directions or appears disrespectful, an investment of time into the relationship, and not just the behavior, may work wonders. 
  1. Separations and connection to others will be easier. Many children go through separation anxiety as part of healthy and normal development. Yet, a secure attachment to you means she will learn to trust that you will return. She will also believe that adults, in general, are trustworthy. 
  1. Strong attachments serve as a balm for emotional wounds. Children tend to believe they get the care they deserve. A child who is consistently met with warmth from an attachment figure will believe she is worthy of it. When hurt occurs in her interactions with peers or other adults, she will be more resilient and protected as a result of her caregiving. She’ll understand that this hurt is not indicative of her worth in the world. 

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

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8 Steps to Reaching a Goal

It’s the New Year! A clean slate. Many of us approach the New Year with BIG DREAMS. We might even set goals. But if you are anything like me, you may have had the experience of running out of steam, losing motivation, getting discouraged and even giving up. I decided to do some research with the hopes of creating better outcomes for 2019. I learned that creating habits is the best way to support reaching a goal. The trick is how do we create habits that support the goals we want to achieve?

Here’s 8 Steps To Developing A New Habit: 

Get Clear. Identify want you want to achieve, make sure the goal is realistic for you. If you’re not a morning person, it’s probably not a good idea to set a goal to work out 30 minutes at the gym every morning. 

Start Small.  Achieving just one small goal multiplies your potential to succeed by increasing your motivation. You are more likely to achieve a small goal. When you meet your goal you will start to feel better. As the quality of you life improves, this will motivate you to do it more. 

Identify the Why. By clearly outlining the ways the new habit will improve the quality of your life or contribute to the well being of your family or  community, you will generate passion and motivation. Identify
reasons that inspire you. 

Pair the New Habit with a Daily Habit You Already Have. Daily habits that you might pair your new habit with might include brushing your teeth, getting the kids up, or making your coffee. Pairing up your new habit with something that is already established in your routine makes it more likely to stick. 

Decide on A Reward. The reward doesn’t have to necessarily be big, maybe just throwing your hands up in the air and saying “YES” could be enough. Make the reward fun. Positive reinforcement does work. 

Pick a Tracking Mechanism. Print out a monthly calendar or download an app. Keep your tracking choice simple and doable. Make it visible where you will see it regularly. 

Create A Cue. Cues help us remember to perform our new habit. A sticky note reminder or laying out clothes or other supplies needed to complete the activity are examples of cues that will prevent avoidance and support motivation. 

Identify an Accountability Partner. Finding someone to join in or to connect with around your new habit can be very helpful. 

For those of you who might be interested in a deeper level of support, please join us for the next Nurtured Mothering Series starting January 21 where we will support one another to create and meet our intentions in 2019.

For more information on Goal Setting and Creating Habits check out:

Habits 101 Workbook by Brian Johnson

Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in inspiring children, young adults and families to live in health and joy and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes, occupational therapy, and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support in turning your goals into reality, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Navneet Lahti, Wellness Director and Child & Family Therapist, at Intuition Wellness Center

 

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‘Tis the Season for Sensory Overload

It’s a time of year that can certainly overwhelm the senses for many of us– flashing lights littering many lawns and homes, Christmas music blasting from department store speakers, crowds… crowds…. CROWDS. For some people though, sensory overload can be an everyday experience that leads to many moments of discomfort.

What is Sensory Overload?

Some children may become overwhelmed when they experience too many sensations coming into the body at one time. This is called sensory overload. Some examples of sensory overload may include too much noise or a sound that is too loud. A child may become visually overwhelmed in crowded places. More movement than the body can process can also be challenging, such as a ride at an amusement park.   

Children generally respond to sensory overload in two ways. First, they may try remove themselves from the overstimulating environment such as going off in a corner to trying to limit the amount of stimulation. Some children may also respond to sensory overload by acting out behaviorally. Your child may become irritable or defiant, scream, cry, or lash out at others. Your child’s ability to respond appropriately is based on the foundation of their basic senses: touch, vision, hearing, movement, and an internal awareness of where they are in space. A child who has difficulty integrating their senses may be diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder. A pediatric occupational therapist can support a child with this disorder.

What is Pediatric Occupational Therapy?

Pediatric occupational therapists help children develop their occupation to its fullest potential. A child’s occupation is, of course, different from an adult’s. Your child’s main occupation is to play and to learn. As such, occupational therapy goals might include: improving fine motor skills, coordination, muscle strength, cognitive and visual perceptual skills, attention, and following directions. Pediatric occupational therapists working with sensory processing disorder will work to support a child in organizing and maturing their nervous system.

What Can You Do About Sensory Overload?

There are ways to minimize sensory overload this holiday season! Keep your child’s regular routine with adequate sleep and regular nutritious meals and snacks. Ensure they exercise regularly. Plan a schedule that spreads out holiday activities and include down time to help your child’s nervous system to relax.

Get your printable version of tips to prevent sensory overload!

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in inspiring children, young adults and families to live in health and joy and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes, occupational therapy, and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Anne Berkery (formerly Swiderek), Pediatric Occupational Therapist, & Navneet Lahti, Wellness Director, at Intuition Wellness Center

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An Attitude of Gratitude for the Whole Family

Halloween is over and November has arrived. With it comes cooler days, longer nights and the winter holiday season rapidly approaching. This time of year, many of us struggle with feeling there is too much to do and too little time! We may have the desire to have a joyful, relaxed approach to the holidays, yet find ourselves feeling stressed, overwhelmed and even Grinch-like-irritable. If you’re looking for ways to embrace the holiday season with a deeper feeling of joy and connection consider a gratitude practice. 

Research on gratitude shows that people who practice gratitude are happier. How does it work? Basically it’s a way of re-focusing our attention.

Gratitude supports us to focus on what we have, rather than getting stuck on comparisons to others or on what we think might make us happy at some point in the future. 

There are many ways to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for both children and adults, including writing a thank you note to someone who has contributed positively to your life or keeping a gratitude journal. This year I would like to recommend a family activity. 

A Family Attitude of Gratitude… In a Jar!

Step One: Get your supplies together. As a family, decide on some sort of container to which you’ll all be adding slips of paper for the next few weeks. Gather some small pieces of paper or post-it notes.

Step Two: Find a spot. The home for your gratitude jar should be very visible and accessible to all so that each family member can join in.

Step Three: Choose your time frame. Pick a date to start (maybe Thanksgiving) and a date to end (perhaps the last day of Hanukkah or Christmas day).

Step Four: Let the attitude of gratitude commence. Encourage all family members to write down daily something they are grateful for and why. Consider and encourage writing things you are grateful for that happen within your family. For example, I was grateful when Jimmy offered to load the dishwasher without being asked BECAUSE it gave me a few moments to take a deep breath and relax. On the agreed upon last day, take time to read the gratitude notes out loud as a family. 

Step Five Enjoy. Take a deep breath and notice how you feel!

 

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Navneet Lahti, Wellness Director at Intuition Wellness Center

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Do This and Find Your Parenting Mojo Again

Dear Experienced Caregivers,

I am of the belief that we have a crisis on our hands. And this is important. Parenting is not living up to the expectations many of us had for it. In fact, it has been full of disappointments and unexpected challenges. I, for one, thought I would have a whole lot more fun and be a whole lot better at this parenting thing than I actually am. Don’t get me wrong, I understood it would be hard, but I must not have read the fine print, because I didn’t know that it would be this hard.

I think I’ve lost my parenting mojo.

                             Signed,

                                     Every Parent

 

Raise your hand if any of these things are familiar to you:

  1. Staying late at work to avoid the hassles at home.
  2. Preferring to play a game on your phone than play with your kids.
  3. Immersing yourself in errands and projects so as to avoid unstructured time with your children.
  4. Escaping to your home bathroom, at times, because you need a “moment” that has nothing to do with a movement.
  5. Agreeing to allow video game play or other screen time at otherwise restricted times because it will give you breathing room.

Did you raise your hand to at least one? Then you may have lost your parenting mojo, too. If you’re feeling uninspired and lacking joy in your relationship with your child, then let me share a secret that helps me find my parenting mojo again each and every time.

Give them your full attention. That’s the secret ingredient. The exact thing that you may have been avoiding or finding difficult, is the thing that will bring you back to a connected place with them.

If you are the parent or caregiver of multiple children, schedule a special time with each. Let your child choose a developmentally-appropriate screen-free activity for 20 minutes. And then? Play with them. Really notice them– their mannerisms, the way that their hair curls behind one ear, their enjoyment (or lack thereof) in the activity. Don’t judge any of it, just notice. No running off to the bathroom. No important calls or texts. No avoiding.

When’s the last time that you were fully present with your child? When’s the last time that you allowed yourself to play?

Join special guest, Kimberly Lewis, MEd, Early Childhood Educator, for Joyful Parenting, the next topic of Intuition Wellness Center’s monthly Parents’ Heart-to-Heart.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Dr. Brandy Baker, Co-Founder and Clinical & Training Director at Intuition Wellness Center

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Helping Your High Schooler Transition to College

 

Whether your child is approaching legal adulthood or still has several years to go, if you told me that you hadn’t once thought about college or their adult years, I’d be pretty darn skeptical. I don’t know the first time that I thought about it for my own kids, who haven’t even reached their teens yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it crossed my mind before they were even born. Certainly, I thought about it by the time I was looking into preschools for my oldest. In fact, I remember doubting one preschool option for him when he was just three based on whether or not it would have the right level of academic rigor to get him into college. Yes, I really did have that thought for my then three-year-old (I chose that school, ultimately, and I have no regrets!) and I’ve heard the same from other parents.

It seems to plague many of us parents— the worry about the launch into college and/or the beyond. Maybe some of us would even go so far as to say that that worry has impacted many of our parenting decisions. It’s true that there’s some upfront work that we can do as parents to support our kids in really thriving and not just surviving when they get to that milestone. Dr. Kacey Greening spent several years working primarily in college counseling centers and with college-age young adults. During those years, Dr. Greening saw where young adults sometimes bungled in some areas of transitioning to college. She often wished she could reverse time and act more preventatively with this young person and their family. Now, Dr. Greening is doing just that in her clinical work and shares her top tips with us!

 

4 Tips for a Successful Launch to College:

  1. Find a Good Fit
    One of the kindest things you can do for your teen is to help them find a college that has the potential to be a good fit for them. College is a broad term that includes large universities, small community colleges, two year degrees, four year degrees, certification programs, and vocational/technical careers. Being open to all the possibilities gives you and your teen the opportunity to harness your teen’s strengths and interests. While it can sometimes seem like there’s only one path to success and fulfillment, many paths could lead your teen to a viable career. It’s also helpful to keep in mind that your teen can make a change if a change is needed.
  2. Give Them Wings to Fly
    While there is often a focus on getting your teen into a particular college, it is just as important to teach your teen not only how to survive but to thrive once they’re in college. Being a college student typically comes with a higher degree of independence, and it’s much easier if your teen is already practicing important life skills. Does your teen know the value of money? Do they know how to budget? Can they do a load of laundry or make a grilled cheese sandwich? Do they know how to talk to a teacher about a grade or an assignment? As understandable as it is to want to protect your teen or do things for your teen, encouraging your teen to take responsibility for themselves will be an invaluable tool for success in college.
  3. Talk About Risky Situations
    For many families it can sometimes feel awkward when discussing sex, alcohol, drugs, and other potentially risky situations. These topics are not the easiest to broach. However, they are very important and could really save your teen from a lot of pain and heartache. While you’ve probably already discussed family values around these issues and encouraged them to make safe choices, it doesn’t hurt to remind your teen again as they head off to college. It might give you more credibility with your teen if you share some of your own experiences and lessons you’ve learned if you let them know you’re talking to them about it because you care and want them to be healthy and happy. Never underestimate the value of letting your teen know that you’re there for them no matter what. Be willing to handle tough situations in a calm and collected manner that prioritizes listening over lecturing.
  4. Be Kind to Yourself
    Seeing your teen off to college is often a big transition for you both. While it can be a wonderful new chapter in both of your lives, there can be some tough moments spent missing them, worrying about their leap into adulthood, and redesigning your life and priorities. It’s so important for parents to take care of themselves during this transition. Think about what would bring a sense of joy or peace into your life? Maybe calling a friend for a nice dinner or a cup of coffee? Connecting with nature or taking an exercise class? Relying on your sense of humor or cultivating a hobby?

Join Dr. Kacey Greening for more discussion at a Parents’ Heart-To-Heart– Spreading Their Wings: Helping your high schooler transition to college on September 18 at 7pm.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Dr. Kacey Greening, Clinical Psychologist, and Dr. Brandy Baker, Co-Founder and Clinical & Training Director,  at Intuition Wellness Center

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Your Inattentive & Restless Child

As a parent I know how important it is to be able to read your child’s signs. While you may have been able to know what each cry was asking for when your child was a baby, knowing what is at the root of distraction and agitation now that they are a much older and more complex being, is another animal altogether. 

Even if you do have a pretty good sense about whether your child might be wrestling with a fear-based school, social, or general anxiety, or the more neurobiologically-based ADHD, knowing if both are co-existing and how to meet your child’s needs around all of the symptoms accurately and adequately….is simply not simple. 

My hope is that you won’t expect yourself to figure it all out on your own, since we all know how the saying goes about the village it takes to raise a child. And may the following nuggets of guidance help you weave your way toward understanding the distinctions between anxiety and ADHD, where their crossover lies, and some ways in which you can intervene on the home front to provide some support.

How do I know if it’s ADHD or anxiety?

  • Key into clues about whether incomplete tasks are due to anxious perfectionism or to impulsivity-based distractedness (related to ADHD).
  • Notice if instances of impulsivity happen often and even when situations are calm and safe, which would indicate ADHD. 
  • Ask about any worried thoughts that happen for your child…these are often the foundation for an anxious restless and focus-less child. 
  • Ask or notice if your child is showing a collection of physiological or physical signs of anxiety (such as nausea, tense muscles, increased heart-rate, and sweating); these are not going to show up in such a clear and collective way if only ADHD is present.
  • You may notice more social concerns coming from your child when they are dealing with anxiety moreso than with ADHD, since anxiety, and not ADHD, lends itself to an increase in sensitivity to social cues.

Why is it that ADHD and anxiety can look so similar?

  • Both ADHD and anxiety result from decreased and changed activity in the pre-frontal cortex (PFC), which is a place of high-level thinking. Consider the PFC like the control center of the brain, and one of the main reasons we are so distinct in our behavioral capabilities in comparison to other animals. The PFC enables us humans to engage in a great deal of planning, organizing, concentrating, and self-control.
  • The reasons why the PFC goes “offline” when anxious and when ADHD is present are different. This is important because it means that treating them will require us to be on the lookout for different things and to use somewhat different responses.

What can I do about my child’s symptoms?

  • Although the supports for anxiety and ADHD should be different, daily mindfulness and exercise activities create a powerful duo in combating symptoms of both. This is because these activities target executive functioning and sensorimotor processing, which are key to bringing the PFC back “online” and integrating mind and body for managing the present moment effectively.
    • There are a few online sites that I recommend to many of my clients, such a GoZen and GoNoodle. They provide exercise and relaxation activities to help a variety of symptoms related to both diagnoses. Intuition Wellness Center offers a few online resources that focus on breathing and mindfulness that you might find helpful, too.
    • I often also recommend Me Moves and Brain Gym for kids who experience symptoms of ADHD. 
  • Games that hone the different aspects of attention will help “train” the ADHD brain so that it can settle into a focused state and complete tasks effectively. Good examples of such programs can be found on the ADDitude online magazine website.
  • Whether managing ADHD or anxiety, organizing the home and school environment is key to helping your child succeed. Set routines, preparation for what is coming next, and setting up work, play, and relaxation stations at home are all valuable factors in this equation. 
  • Often ADHD, as well as more severe forms of anxiety, are treated with psychotropic medication. An evaluation with a medication provider can help answer your questions and concerns about the pros and cons of this aspect of treatment.
  • A psychological evaluation is one of the best ways to determine if ADHD and/or anxiety is at the root of the symptoms you are seeing in your child. Importantly, a formal evaluation by a trained specialist can allow your child to receive the supports they need both at home and at school, owing to the diagnosis and list of recommendations (specific to your child’s strengths and areas of need) that come out of this.

To learn more about what might help you and your child in navigating attention and restlessness related challenges, please join me for our Parents’ Heart-to-Heart education series about this very topic, on Tuesday August 21, 2018, from 7-8:30pm.

 

REGISTER NOW for our Parents’ Heart-to-Heart on “Your Inattentive & Restless Child.” Tuesday, August 21, 2018 from 7pm-8:30pm

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Lindsay Lennertz, PsyD; Clinical Psychologist at Intuition Wellness Center

 

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Let Them Play (and Get Out of the Way)!

Child-Directed Play

Child-Directed PlayWhen you’re a busy parent or caregiver with errands to run, mouths to feed, and work to do, allowing for time for play might seem pretty low on the priority list. In fact, these days play often has to be scheduled to ensure it happens. As someone who spends a good amount of my work day attempting to be fully present with others, it’s amazing to me how easy it is to get caught up in the daily whirlwind in my personal life. When I’m in a particularly aware space, I can catch myself turning every activity into a goal-directed one. Even play time with my kids can evolve into a very time-limited and rushed flurry of lego-building and board games. In those moments, I tend to do a lot of directing. It allows me to get onto my next to-do item, but these generally aren’t my shiniest parenting moments.

There’s a time and place for that sort of play. Structured and goal-directed play isn’t inherently bad. For example, competitive games, like Uno are loads of fun. Crafting with a specific “product” or goal in mind is also satisfying for many. But the play that this generation of kids is especially losing out on is the unstructured kind. The kind of play where a child gets to be spontaneous and creative, exploratory and in charge. The kind that occurs just for the sake of having fun with no planned product in mind except that of their own imagination. And trust me when I say that losing unstructured child-directed play is a big problem. Our over-scheduled kids are on the front lines of a nationwide anxiety epidemic, while child-directed play has so many critical benefits (motor skills/coordination, self concept, and social skills, to name just a few).

Assume you’re being invited in and that you’re making an effort to create space for non-competitive, non-directive play, here’s a few tips to get you started:

Three Tips for Getting Out of the Way of a Kid’s Play

  1. Pretend You’re a (Play) House Guest. When you’re a new guest in someone else’s house, you don’t just bulldoze your way through a visit. Instead, you would typically use your best manners, observe whether others take off their shoes at the door, politely ask for a drink of water if it’s not offered, etc. Think of yourself as a guest in your child’s play. Don’t just help yourself to what’s in the fridge. Ask how they want you to play if they don’t tell you first. Better yet, observe them in their play for a bit before getting involved.
  2. Allow for Repetitive Play. Look… if you’re going to be a good playmate, you simply have to stop putting a kibosh on kiddo playing out the same thing over and over. Do you remember when your four-year-old requested that you read the story of “The Little Red Hen” again? For the six bazillionth time in a week? That’s developmentally appropriate for young children. Personally, I conceptualize that sort of repetitive play as an attempt at mastery– a signal to me that I ought to stay out of the way until they’ve resolved the issue. It’s tempting to insist on something different because YOU are getting bored of it. Ultimately though, if you let your child engage in that repetitive play enough, she’s likely to move on eventually.
  3. Get Over your Savior Complex. Many in our culture have misinterpreted boredom as signaling something negative is happening— that our child needs more activities, more things to accomplish. But let me clear up that confusion. Being bored is OK. Some even tout it as a gift. From boredom comes the best kind of creativity and spontaneity. Please stop rescuing your child each time he or she complains of boredom. Instead, say “Huh. I wonder what you’ll do about that?” Expect a bit of resistance if your child isn’t used to that sort of response. I can almost guarantee though that if you suggest a chore as an activity, they’ll find their own boredom solution.

Sometimes having a designated time and space for play can be the best answer to getting into a play rhythm. While there’s lots of options, some of our favorites are right here in house:

REGISTER NOW: Friday Night Family Yoga at Intuition Wellness Center.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Brandy Baker, PsyD; Co-Founder; Clinical Psychologist

 

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Creating Calm by Creating Routines

School is ending and summer’s here! Children are excited and may be looking forward to no homework, sleeping in, and more freedom! As parents you might be worried about what to do to keep your child busy and out of trouble while keeping your own frustration level low. This is a great time to begin to establish a summer routine for your household. Establishing a routine now will also help with transitioning back to school.

5 Reasons Routines Can be Helpful to Both You & Your Kids:

  1. Kids feel less anxious. Routines create predictability. Kids feel less anxious when they can anticipate what’s next. Expectations that are clear and consistent help children to feel safe and secure.
  2. Kids transition more easily. Routines insure that important tasks are completed without the last minute pressure of the clock.
  3. Kids learn responsibility. As kids learn routines they will be able to complete tasks without your help. As they feel successful, confidence grows.
  4. Kids’ nervous system relax. Routines support a calm environment. This saves both you and your child from countless reminders and potential upsets.
  5. Kids receive positive attention. Routines provide opportunities to spend nurturing time together. Routines can provide a touchstone for positive connection.

Tips for Creating Successful Routines

  1. Take time to sit down and decide what routines are most important. It’s best when all caregivers are on the same page.
  2. Make sure that your child is developmentally able to complete the tasks related to the routine.
  3. Let kids know ahead of time that you are planning on putting a new routine in place.
  4. Start with one routine, master it, do it long enough to make it a habit.
  5. Write it down and post it so expectations are clear.
  6. Practice it with your children until they have mastered the routine.
  7. Offer TONS of praise each time your child successfully completes the task.
  8. Stay consistent. Your nerves will be less frayed and your home much more calm. The effort it takes is worth it!

Involving children in age-appropriate chores can also become part of your family’s daily routine. Think your kiddo is too young for chores? Think again! Even a 2-year-old can put dirty clothes in a hamper! A child who makes contributions to the household also gets to experience themselves as a helpful member of the family.

Interested in other ideas to calm your child’s nervous system? Join me on June 19 for a Parents’ Heart-to-Heart:

Parents’ Heart-to-Heart: Help Your Child Calm Their Nervous System

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Navneet Lahti, LCSW; Wellness Director,  Child & Family Clinician

 

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Go Under the Behavior Before You Punish

alternatives to punishment

Calm, consistent structure in your home helps your child to feel secure and know what is expected. Ultimately, this will lead most kids to success in most situations. But even the most predictable routines and responses aren’t always enough. Before you start dishinggo under the behavior out punishments, first consider whether your expectations are developmentally-attuned and then… go under the behavior.

Young children are developing abilities to think rationally, to identify their emotions, and to verbally express their thoughts and feelings. Until they develop these skills, kids often express themselves through their behaviors.  In addition to providing developmentally-attuned expectations and consequences to children, it’s helpful to “Go Under the Behavior” to identify what need your child is trying to express.

Go Under the Behavior

What do I mean by underlying need? In addition to obvious needs like safety, nourishment, and sleep, all people also have needs for attention, love, and belongingness. When your child is really pushing limits, consider that she may be attempting to get one of these needs met. For example, a child who just had a baby join the family may regress. We’ve all seen kids seek attention by “acting like a baby” or “acting helpless.” Your child’s regressed behavior may be her way of asking for reassurance that she’s still loved. She’ll likely need more support while your family adjusts to a new family member and no amount of punishment will truly address the underlying issue.

While firm limits and structure remain important, once you go under the behavior and identify the need, it’s a lot easier to be empathic. Meeting the needs of your child proactively will also curb “problem” behaviors before they feel out of control. Ultimately, it will free you up more to enjoy your child.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Navneet Lahti, LCSW; Wellness Director,  Child & Family Clinician

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Stop Power Struggles, Make Peace with Your Child

Power Struggles

It’s 7:21 am, you have exactly four minutes until you HAVE to leave the house. Your child finally walks to the front door, “ready” to go… with NO shoes. You love them so much, but instantly you can feel your face turn red. You’ve already been nagging them all morning. “Wake up!” “Hurry up!” “Chew with your mouth closed!” And now, they’ve walked out of their room, ready to go, with no shoes! You look at them and say, “Go put your shoes on! We are going to be late again!” Your child cries, “I’m not gonna wear shoes and you can’t make me!” And away we go. Another battle begins.

How many of us can relate to a situation like this? As a result, it may feel like we are always focused on the negative, constantly wasting time and energy, nagging and caught up in power struggles. Maybe it feels like your child is entitled or lacks follow through. Okay, one last question, does it ever feel like you have to walk your child through the most basic daily routines and expectations? The struggle is real!

These issues are extremely common, and a major point of contention among families I support. One set of tools I have always been fascinated by and have witnessed the power of, time and time again, are the techniques and practices presented by Love and Logic. Love and Logic is an approach to parenting built on respect, trust and understanding. I have witnessed minor tweaks in language move mountains even in the most challenging of situations. These techniques are easy to implement, though require intentionality, allowing you to take back your healthy control by neutralizing arguments and using enforceable statements and positive reinforcement. Whether it’s a power struggle with your child about putting on their shoes or addressing the “tornado” your teen left in the bathroom, Love and Logic is an impactful approach worth exploring.

Love & Logic Applied:

A teenager refused to clean their room and is requesting that Mom take them to the mall. This mom’s approach demonstrates enforceable and neutralizing statements.

Teen: “Mom, can you take me to the mall to meet up with my friends?”

Mom: “Sure. As soon as your bedroom is clean, I’d be happy to drive you to the mall.” *this is an example of an enforceable statement*

Teen: “Ugh, Mom, that is not fair. I don’t have time! I need to go now.”

Mom: “Aw, bummer. I hope you can figure this out.”


Teen: “So, can you take me?”

Mom: “I would be happy to, as soon as your room is clean.” *again, using an enforceable statement*

Teen: “I don’t care what you said! This isn’t fair! You never let me do anything!”

Mom: “Sweetie, I love you too much to argue with you.” (walks away) *here we see the use of a neutralizing statement*

There are many ways to learn more about Love and Logic!  If you would like to schedule parent coaching rooted in Love and Logic principals, give us a call or check out a sampling on May 15 at our next Parents’ Heart-to-Heart.

Learn about Intuition Wellness Center’s next Parents’ Heart-to-Heart Series… Love & Logic: Behavioral strategies that support your relationship with your child.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting pediatric professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

 

Written By: Emily Fenton, LCSW; Child & Family Clinician at Intuition Wellness Center

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ASD Girls: It is only a special part of who you are

ASD, Autism Awareness,

As a sister to a person with autism, I feel very fortunate to be able to write this post during the month of April—Autism Awareness Month! Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is classified as a neurodevelopmental disability, meaning symptoms appear during early developmental periods (18 months- 6 years). The most common characteristics of autism include social communication difficulties. The prevalence has nearly doubled since 2004, shifting rates from 1 in 125 children in the United States to 1 in 68, and 1 in 54 among boys. While there is no known single cause of ASD, research suggests early supports and services improve long-term outcomes.

National Autism Awareness Month, first developed by the Autism Society, was created to spread awareness of the condition. Since then it has expanded to promote acceptance, appreciation, and inclusion. Autism Awareness Month has been celebrated in many ways, including #LIUB (i.e., light it up blue), by wearing blue, or using blue outdoor lightbulbs.

At the Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in November, 2017, participants focused on particular challenges for women and girls with disabilities. This year, the United Nations made a commitment to empowerment. Namely, the UN is discussing forms of discrimination and other unique barriers among women and girls with ASD with key stakeholders and policy makers. Some examples of these barriers include access to education, lower rates of employment, greater likelihood of physical and psychological violence, and inadequate sexual and reproductive health services.

Emily, 23, describes her own perspective on discrimination:

“Due to my autism diagnosis, I felt discriminated against myself in employment, and that made me feel like an outsider. I felt like I was a freak because of my autism. Eventually, I learned that everyone should be protected from discrimination in the work force. We are all created equally, regardless of our weaknesses, disabilities, race, religion, sexual preferences, etc. Had I not realized that, I probably never would have gotten where I am today – working two part-time jobs.”

When asked about practical ways people without ASD can empower girls on the spectrum, Emily identified the struggles of communication with “neurotypicals,” and offered some advice:

“Though acquiring social graces always seems to have their obstacles, no one should give up so easily. People often believe that if you’re different from them, they wouldn’t accept you as a friend. Discrimination, especially against a person with a mental disorder, is one of the greatest challenges that we face. As hurtful and cruel as it may be, it happens. Don’t let doubts, fear, and uncertainty get in the way. Autism doesn’t define you as a person; it is only a special part of who you are.”

Spread Autism Awareness:

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting pediatric professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written by: Megan Beardmore, MA; PhD Candidate in School Psychology

 

 

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3 Ways to Create Energy from Within

It’s impossible to nurture and bring joy to our children when we, ourselves, are depleted. Yet feeling strong, vibrant and alive, even in the face of the energy and time demands of parenting, is possible! Rather than attempting to find energy outside of yourself in the form of sugary foods, caffeine, or over working, seek Prana!

Prana

A Sanskrit word often used in yoga, prana translates to life force or vital principle. We maintain and build prana through the quality of our days and through the food that we eat. From a yogic perspective, prana is key to both creating a healthy body and to nurturing our minds and spirits.

3 Ways to Prana

Breathe Consciously. First, in yoga we do pranayama or breathing exercises. These exercises expand or build prana through conscious breath in conjunction with rhythmic movement. We direct our breath in specific ways in conjunction with a specific count or rhythm. It is also through our breath that we can change or manage our energy and emotions.

TRY THIS: Begin by letting your breath relax to its normal pace and depth.  Once you feel ready, place one hand on your lower abdomen and one on your upper chest. Begin to inhale through the nose conscious filling the abdomen, then expanding the chest and finally lifting the upper clavicle.  When you are ready to exhale, the upper chest area/clavicle area deflates, then the chest area and finally the lower abdomen is drawn in as it too deflates. The breath moves through each segment of the body with a smooth motion.  Take your time as you complete both your inhale and your exhale. Practice a few rounds and begin to notice how you feel.

Slow Down. In addition to taking time to breathe, we can also build prana by taking time to simply slow down, experience a moment of gratitude and notice the magic of our everyday experience.  Spending quiet time in nature also builds and maintains prana.  Even just a little bit of time each day breathing fresh air, feeling the support of the earth and connecting to our sensory experiences can help build and restore our energy.

TRY THIS: When riding in the car and stopping at stop lights, make a little time to pause. Teach your child that what we do at stop lights is take deep breaths and show them how to breathe from the abdomen during these pauses.

Do What You Love. Taking time to do what you love also builds prone. Each of us has had the experience of timelessness when doing what we love. This might be spending time in nature, making art, or spending time with friends. Time stands still, your energy is sustained, and you feel deeply nurtured.

TRY THIS: Take time this month to do what brings you joy. Find a class or activity that supports prana, such as Intuition Wellness Center’s Nurtured Mothering.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Navneet Lahti, LCSW; Wellness Director,  Child & Family Clinician

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Yoga Journey: A personal testimony

When high school senior, Manasa Swaminathan, joined the Intuition Wellness Center team as an intern, she didn’t anticipate the positive changes she would experience in her personal life. However, in her journey to learn more about mental health and wellness, Manasa began a daily practice of yogathat has had a lasting impact. Here’s what Manasa has to say about this…

Yoga. What Does it Mean?

I have often heard the word “yoga” throughout my life– at home, on the tv, at school, and in stores. What does it actually mean? “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning “to unify.” However, from a philosophical standpoint, yoga’s meaning suggests self-integration of the personality and the awakening of a “higher self.” Yoga, as a science, is a culmination of techniques that allows us to connect with our mind and body.

 

Benefits and My Own Experience.

A regular yoga practice holds numerous benefits. Although I found yoga captivating when I was starting to learn more about it last year, I didn’t understand the meaning and benefits until recently. I have been doing a project at my school on the effects of yoga, art and martial arts on mental health. I have been reading research papers and books and helping Intuition Wellness Center with certain projects pertaining to this topic; however, I never completely understood the essence of yoga until I began practicing it as a part of my own daily routine. Navneet Lahti, LCSW, the Wellness Director at Intuition Wellness, taught me a practice of Kundalini Yoga that is designed to lessen anxiety and stress. I implemented this and a daily art activity in my everyday life and I have witnessed many positive changes.

Within a few weeks after I began practicing yoga regularly I started experiencing better sleep. I’ve struggled with sleep since I started high school.  My sleep schedule has always been shaped by the number of assignments that I had to complete each night. I hypothesize that the reason I’m getting better sleep is because this yoga practice allows me to de-stress and de-clutter my thoughts. I’ve also noticed that I’m better able to concentrate. Due in part to technology, I have a tendency to get distracted which, historically,  has led to procrastination and additional stress. Since I began practicing yoga, I have found that my mind doesn’t drift as much as it used to, which has allowed me to grasp and learn about things at a quicker rate.

The research supports my personal experience. In fact, studies have shown that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. Yoga offers other benefits, too, such as better posture and prevention of digestive problems. I’m not going to lie. Getting into the daily routine of practicing art and yoga was difficult. However, once I began a consistent practice, I have witnessed so many positive changes in my life that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Written By: Manasa Swaminathan Senior at BASIS– Oro Valley, Student Intern at Intuition Wellness Center.

 

 

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs, such as yoga, for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

 

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Dr. Kacey Greening is Getting Back to Her Roots


It’s hard to find somebody as dedicated to learning as Dr. Kacey Greening. After years of working primarily in college counseling centers, Dr. Greening made a bold move and re-routed her career path back to her original plan: working with kids and families.

And the timing couldn’t have been better. Just as Dr. Greening was launching back into pediatric work, Intuition Wellness Center opened a position for a new clinical team member. Her thoughtful approach to her work, gentle presence, positive attitude, and devotion to ongoing training are just a few of the many ways that Dr. Greening won over the Intuition Wellness team. There’s also a lot more about Dr. Greening to like…

Who is Dr. Kacey Greening?!?

Where are you originally from? I was born and raised in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Favorite vegetable: Carrots.

What do you do to relax? Some of my favorite ways to relax are hiking and mountain biking, watching college basketball, and spending time with my husband, family, and friends. I also love to cook and bake.

Name an unusual thing that you know how to do that many others do not: I grew up watching my dad compete at his Archery club so I learned how to shoot a bow. It’s a lot of fun and a great stress reliever.

Name a guilty pleasure: Watching my favorite Netflix reruns.

What’s a professional topic that you get especially excited about? I’m a big believer in self-compassion. I practice it daily, many times a day! My hope is that in being kind towards myself it will encourage people to be kinder to themselves too.

What led you to decide on joining the Intuition Wellness team? Working with kids, young adults, and families has been a passion of mine since I started working in this field. Intuition’s mission to inspire others to live in health and joy is consistent with my own philosophy, and I wanted to be on a team with people who share my values. Another key factor that led to me joining the team at Intuition is my colleagues. When I was getting to know the Intuition team, I instantly felt a warmth and a kindness that put me at ease. I was also impressed by their commitment to continued growth and quality services. I remember thinking that Intuition was a work environment where I would be supported and challenged to grow, while also being able to offer support and challenge others to grow.

What if someone is feeling nervous about coming in to see you? Is there something they should know? My personal approach is that everyone needs some support and help from time to time, myself included. Engaging in counseling can be a wonderful form of self-care. I know that for many people reaching out for help, it can take a lot of strength and courage, which is one of the reasons why Positive Psychology is so important to me. I think being mindful of pleasant and meaningful experiences are just as important as being mindful of the areas we’re struggling in. When I provide counseling, I not only try to be attentive to the areas where a person feels stuck, but I try to use their strengths to problem solve and create healthy changes.

What’s something that parents and kids might like to know about your approach? I work very hard to find helpful strategies that are consistent with client and family values. I enjoy using art, therapeutic games, and creative approaches to identify client and family needs and to build a trusting relationship. I also incorporate skills from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Positive Psychology, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Many of the things that are important to me as a person also come through in the therapy room, such as kindness, creativity, and collaboration. When I work with clients and families, I see my role as being on the journey with them and collaborating with them to decide what’s best for them.

For more updates on Intuition Wellness Center’s services and programs, subscribe to our newsletter or pop on over to our Facebook page for lots more great stuff.

At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written by: Dr. Brandy Baker, PsyD and Dr. Kacey Greening, PsyD

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Screen Time Takeover: 3 Tips for Busy Families

A little over 6 years ago, I had just reluctantly traded in my basic flip phone for a smartphone. Now? My smartphone practically feels like an appendage. Digital advancements are happening lightening fast. As a result, research on the effects of screen time is struggling to keep pace. This has left most families feeling uninformed and overwhelmed when it comes to creating screen time boundaries.

The truth of the matter is that none of us could have prepared for the epidemic that is screen time in the 21st century. Whether it’s playing a mindless online game, following social media, coordinating a multiplayer video game, or streaming video, there’s something for pretty much everyone. But parents simply don’t have a personal reference point for what it’s like to be a kid in this digital era. None of us were tweens or teens connecting through social media in quite the way that our children are. We didn’t have such instant access to the huge variety of media like children do now.

If you’re like me and other parents, you’ve probably had some desperate moments in search of answers around screen time limits. Perhaps you’ve found yourself asking some of the following questions: what kind of screen time should we be allowing and when? Is it ok to let my child play video games before or between homework assignments? How do I get my kid to get up off the couch? What can I do to get my kid off her phone? How violent is too violent?

While what’s best for your family won’t be the perfect balance for all, there’s a few basic strategies that many families seem to find pretty helpful.

Tips for Battling Screen Time Takeover
  1. Ditch the 2-minute warnings.

    In a recent small study of families with young children, researchers evaluated transitions away from technology (computer, tv, tablets, etc). They determined that the hardest transitions were most commonly associated with the parent giving a “two-minute warning” before ending screen time. Shocking, I know! When the end of screen time was part of a regular routine, it was met with less resistance.  For example, if your kiddo knows that the iPad always goes off once breakfast is ready, then they will be much less likely to resist this transition. Natural endings as transitions were also more successful. For instance, if screen time is stopped at the end of a TV show or after your child has reached the next level in a video game, they will tend to respond more positively than stopping midway through.

  2. Watch with the kids.

    Simply put, engage in the media actively together. For very young children, this can help prevent the language delays associated with screen time. We know that when TV is on, even if it’s just as background noise, families tend to have fewer verbal exchanges a which leads to smaller vocabularies. It’s better to make it an activity with a set beginning and ending that turns it into a springboard for more conversation. That is, use it to develop a common language together that you can reference in later interactions. With planning, you can even use it as a subtle lesson that parallels a situation that your child is working on mastering.

  3. Invest in an alarm clock.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard teens, tweens and parents say that they keep their smartphone in their bedrooms next to them because they rely on it for the alarm clock. It’s a buzzing and binging little temptation that rarely can be resisted, even in the wee hours of the night and many are getting less sleep than they should as a direct result of engaging in late night screen time. I speak from the experience of having had many kids confess in my office when I say that lots of kids aren’t telling their parents when they’re doing this. Make screens inconvenient. Invest in an alarm clock for your teen and make it a practice to dock the phone out of sight at night at least an hour before bedtime. Better yet, as a family, make a commitment to keep all screens out of the bedroom.

This screen time takeover is something that impacts all of us. The battle is ongoing. I’ve identified several moments when I know for certain that it’s impacted my ability to be a present parent. Many other parents report the same. Much of what I’ve learned, came not just from extensive reading on the subject, but also from talking to other parents and trial and error. I encourage you to do the same.

Learn about Intuition Wellness Center’s next Parents’ Heart-to-Heart Series and talk to the experts

Receive 20 FREE STRATEGIES FOR BATTLING SCREEN TIME TAKEOVER Right Now

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting pediatric professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written by: Dr. Brandy Baker, Clinical & Training Director; Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash.

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7 Better Ways to Bolster Your Child’s Self-Esteem

I’ve seen it time and time again. A desperate parent tells me that they don’t understand why their child is struggling with low self-esteem. This is despite the fact that they are able to name many wonderful things about their child and are constantly showering their child with praise.

Here’s the trouble: praising a child regularly and in non-specific ways simply does not lead to children who are more secure and self-assured. In actuality, a child who is often praised may become dependent on others’ evaluations of them as evidence of their value. In some cases, they may feel like a complete imposter— as if others are misjudging their ability.

7 Better Ways to Bolster Your Child’s Self-Esteem:

  1. Be sincere with praise. When you do praise, hand it out sparingly and honestly and focus on effort (think process, not product). This will give it more meaning in the child’s eyes.
  2. Assign household tasks and chores. By doing so, the message you give is “we trust you to do important tasks and you have a crucial role in the functioning of the family.”
  3. Allow for child-directed time. If screens are turned off and a child is given free time with regularity, the child will naturally work on gaining or proving mastery over a challenging situation.
  4. Include them in family decisions. Ask them for their opinion when it’s age-appropriate, such as which of the two dinner options they suggest or which curtains they prefer for the living room. They’ll appreciate that their opinion is valued.
  5. Avoid comparing to others. Drawing comparisons between your child and their peers, siblings and anyone for that matter is a delicate matter that sets them up to feel as though they are valued only when better than others. It’s better to teach them to use themselves as the baseline comparison.
  6. Be constructive. If your child does something you don’t like, avoid focusing on the negative and, instead, simply tell them what you would like them to do instead next time.
  7. Encourage interests. Seeking out opportunities to cultivate your child’s talents and interests demonstrates to them that their uniqueness is important and allows for them to further develop competencies.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. If you think you need some extra support, call us. We offer parent groups and other supportive services. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Brandy Baker, PsyD

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Kids’ Self Care: How sick is too sick?

On my graduation day from high school, a good friend was given a fancy certificate for maintaining a record of perfect attendance every single year of his entire history of schooling. He hadn’t missed a single day since he started in kindergarten. Not for illness. Not for a death. Not for vacation. Not for anything. Not one day missed for 13 years. I remember how, in the months leading up to the end of our senior year, he balked at “senior skip day” and how he came to school with the flu and all sorts of other symptoms. He was determined to keep up his unmarred record and his teachers and classmates, myself included, egged him on. There was something I found respectable about his willingness to power through, as if he was some sort of martyr for having survived cases of pink eye and the chicken pox while concurrently completing his multiplication tables and learning state capitals. It does seem a pretty remarkable feat.

Now, a full-on grown up, I still fight an internalized message— one that says things like, “you’re not going to let a little thing like a cold stand in your way, are you?” Somehow, whether through a family cultural message or through a broader societal message, I seem to have gotten confused about the value of caring for myself and allowing my body to rest and heal. There are other underlying messages contributing, too, of course. Outright denial tends to complicate things as does my own family’s hesitation to pay for health care when I was a kid or to miss work due to the financial implications. These days, I’m usually able to engage with my rational brain in these instances, but it still takes a good amount of effort. Another thing that I understand much better now also is the importance of thinking about how my own actions impact others— that is, the spread of my illness to others is something that I take far more seriously, especially given who I work with at Intuition Wellness Center.

Today my fellow team members and I work with a vulnerable population of children and young people. Some of them are living with chronic illness, both physical and mental. It can be very difficult, even for a seasoned professional, to determine what symptoms are rooted in a physical ailment and what is purely emotional. Part of the difficulty is that, the more we understand, the more we realize that often they are not truly distinct parts or processes in our bodies. Symptoms such as fatigue, decrease in appetite, stomachaches and headaches could be part of the flu or an ongoing chronic “body-based” medical issue and they could also be symptoms of depression or anxiety. Those with chronic physical disease are also more susceptible to mental illness as the impact on their social relationships and everyday functioning can weigh heavily on their emotional health. Because proper diagnosis is more complicated when there are both physical and mental health issues, many people do not get proper care for one or the other or both. Mental illness is often associated with poorer diets and exercise routines as well, which make it both more difficult to stay physically healthy and to recuperate from physical illness as well as to improve from the mental illness itself.

Not everyone has been inundated with the same messages that I received as a kid. Among the team members I work with and the clients I see, many are stellar at listening to their bodies and giving themselves the proper time to rest and recuperate. We do often get the question from parents, however, as to whether they should bring their sick child in for their psychotherapy appointment. It does feel like a tough thing to navigate for some kids who seem to be so susceptible to illness that they rarely seem to be symptom-free come flu season. Many parents also do seem to understand that the discomfort of physical illness seems to intensify some of the symptoms of mental illness (and be intensified by mental illness) and want support for their children during this time. While often I do emphasize the importance of regular attendance in psychotherapy sessions, when a child is truly physically ill with something like the flu or has some other contagious condition, my answer is consistent— stay home.

Keeping your kids home from school, community events or their counseling appointments when they are sick helps them recover sooner and prevents them from spreading the illness to others. Staying home from an appointment with a team member at Intuition Wellness Center due to a contagious condition, also means helping to prevent particularly vulnerable children and young people from potentially catching something that could contribute to worsened mental illness as well.

But how sick is too sick for an appointment at Intuition Wellness Center?

• A temperature over 100 degrees;
• Throwing up or diarrhea;
• Pink and crusty eyes;
• Doctor states they should stay home;
• Too sick for school;
• Any other condition that is infectious/contagious/spreads (including head lice).

It may be ok to go to an appointment at Intuition Wellness Center if your child doesn’t have any other symptoms besides a runny nose and a little cough. However, it’s always a good idea to consult with your child’s pediatrician and call your clinician prior to the appointment.

Please help the Intuition Wellness Center community and other vulnerable populations to stay healthy by resting when you’re sick. At Intuition Wellness we consider clients staying home due to illness an important act of self care and waive our cancellation fee for such instances.

When is sick too sick for you or your child? Let us know in the comments section below how you can tell when your child needs extra rest so that other readers can benefit from your wisdom!

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call us at 520-333-3320.

Written by: Brandy Baker, PsyD in collaboration with Co-Founder Yoendry Torres, PsyD & H.S. Intern Manasa Swaminathan

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Strategies to Move a Couch Potato Kid

It’s an era of sedentary activity– of children and adults who spend evenings and weekends glued to the couch. Many children have been trained to sit still for hours at school and then follow it with an hour or more of homework each evening. So when they have free time, naturally a child will retreat into … the stillness of video gaming, TV and social media?! It’s true, many parents find it difficult to get their blobs school-age children active without the structure of an organized sport or the promise of a bribe (in the form of more time for video games, naturally).

Intuitively, many caregivers understand that it’s important for children to move, but don’t always know how. Here’s a start.

Get ’em Off the Couch:

  • Avoid using sedentary activities, including screen time, as rewards and physical activity as punishment as this teaches kids that sedentary activity is more desirable than physical activity.
  • Explore out-of-the-box options until your child is having fun, such as wall climbing centers, guided hikes at national parks, trampoline parks, or hiphop dancing.
  • Make it a family affair by going on family hikes, riding bikes together, shooting hoops in the driveway, putting together an at-home obstacle course or doing yard work together.
  • Bring along a friend to the community pool or local playground and consider arranging for your child and their bestie to sign up for an organized sport together.
  • Establish a routine such that every Wednesday night after dinner the family goes for a walk or on Saturday mornings the kids go swimming at the YMCA.
  • Provide the materials for physical activity, such as soccer balls, jump ropes and sprinklers to run through.
If your child is still avoiding movement, they may benefit from support with coordination, muscle tone, balance, or body awareness. A pediatric occupational therapist might be able to help.
Need more ideas to get your kiddo engaged? We’ve got your back. Check out our Pinterest boards for lots of activities. If concerns persist, Intuition Wellness Center can help you and your family connect to resources.
At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call us at 520-333-3320.

Written By: Brandy Baker, PsyD

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Contemporary Family Lessons from the Ancient Art of Taekwondo

What do sports have to do with personal wellbeing and family functioning? A lot, it turns out, if the sport you’re talking about is Taekwondo. In a recent blog series, Master Yoendry Torres, a psychologist, Taekwondo instructor and Executive Director of Intuition Wellness Center discusses how the basic tenets of Taekwondo can be applied to more general well-being.

Here are Master Torres’ blog posts compiled for your convenience:

Liked what you read? Ready to join Master Torres in the Taekwondo Wellness Program at Intuition Wellness Center? It’s easy!

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation and to get more information on any one of the many services and programs we offer.

Photo courtesy of creativecommons.org

Written by: Brandy Baker, PsyD