There’s a lot going on right now for all of us. And by that, I’m definitely talking about the anger, sadness, grief and chronic state of crisis fatigue many are experiencing. Tired from trying our best to cope with our own big feelings, many parents are finding it difficult to navigate our kids feelings, too. However, all of us can certainly understand why our kids are cranky. I mean, who isn’t feeling irritable? When I asked our team pediatric occupational therapist, Anne Berkery, OTR/L, about recommendations for helping kids cope, she didn’t disappoint. Anne enthusiastically offered many suggestions of movement-based activities that can help kids with their crankies.
An occupational therapist (OT) is always thinking about the movement needs of their clients. A lack of movement often means big problems and Anne Berkery, OTR/L conceptualizes this as a contributor to irritability. With school remaining online for many and usual activities inaccessible, so many kids are more sedentary than usual right now.
4 Easy Movement Activities to Help Your Cranky Kid
Obstacle Courses. Anne says that we should get our kids running. Obstacle courses are a semi-sneaky way of achieving this goal. The especially great thing about obstacle courses is that you can make them in just about any space and using things around your house. If the kids start getting bored with it, just switch it up. Move things around. Level Up: For a personalized touch, help your kiddo trace their feet and cut out the shapes on colored paper. Use these cutouts to mark their intended steps or to represent certain actions during the obstacle course.
Musical Chairs. Tried and true, a game of musical chairs will get them moving and laughing. This works especially well when at least a few family members can join in. All you need is one less chair than players, some fun music and someone who will hit pause from time to time. Level Up: Have your child choose the soundtrack to make it especially fun for them and have them dance and not just walk around the chairs.
Beach Balls. Bop around a beach ball or two or a couple of balloons for another movement activity that’s hard to resist. Level Up: Create a challenge of how many times they can bop the ball before it hits the ground. See if you can add in a funny gesture or movement between hitting the ball.
Jump Rope. A great test of coordination, the rhythmic nature of jumping rope can actually be soothing as well. Also great about jumping rope? It can be done independently when others aren’t available to help turn the rope. Level Up: Add a song to your jumping or for a really big challenge try it out with a second rope double dutch style. For especially young kids, the rope can be placed on the floor to allow them to jump over.
At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in health and wellness services for children, young adults, and their families. If you think you would like some extra support, we’re here for you. Call 520-333-3320 or request an appointment.
I can accept that parenting my kids can be a thankless job; however, watching them respond (or not respond) to others’ kindnesses can really put me on edge. I practically hold my breath when their gratitude is slow to show up. Those two little words, “thank you,” sure can be a relief to hear. While gratitude certainly leaves the person on the receiving end feeling good, there are also amazing benefits to the physical, social and psychological health of the gratitude giver. So, if you came here to read about helping others feel appreciated because it’s polite and kind, then let me stop you right there. This blog is really about revealing something supposedly altruistic as also self-serving– the other reasons to teach your child gratitude.
What is gratitude?
Robert Emmons suggests that gratitude is about both affirming goodness and turning our gaze outward. Specifically, he suggests that gratitude includes “recognizing that one has obtained a positive outcome… and that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves.” This might include gratitude for something nature-made, a chance occurence (“thanking my lucky stars”), a gift from God, or from the people around us.
As Emmons goes on to clarify, gratitude also “requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.” What I love about this explanation is that it’s in support of community care and not just self care. That means showing up for each other and truly embodying the it-takes-a-village mentality to raising children. I am a firm believer that caring for oneself is critical. Yet, I have also felt strongly that parents can feel a lot of shame and isolation when the prevailing message is about self care without also emphasizing community.
Gratitude is also complex. It is defined as a disposition or trait, as well as a mood with daily fluctuations or a temporary emotion such as feeling gratitude immediately after receiving a gift. Yet, it’s not just for humans. Gratitude is felt by several species of animals. For example, some animals may help another at a cost to themselves because they understand, instinctually, that they may be on the receiving end of a favor at a later date.
Why is gratitude important?
Here’s where this blog will really cater to those selfish needs! There are so many ways that being grateful and/or showing gratitude will serve the gratitude giver! Gratitude is associated with:
Better physical health. For example, various studies have linked gratitude to better sleep, less fatigue, and lower levels of inflammation.
Better psychological health. Studies have linked gratitude to less depression, less envy and better resilience after a traumatic event.
Better social health. Research also suggests that individuals who demonstrate higher levels of gratitude are more socially integrated and have better social support. Researchers have described gratitude as a sort of “social glue.”
Better life satisfaction. Research suggests that more grateful adolescents are more interested and satisfied with their school lives, more engaged in schoolwork and hobbies, and less materialistic.
4 Fun Activities that Teach Your Child Gratitude
Parenting is so much easier when you don’t have children. (Yup, let that sink in.) Yet, finding ways to teach your child gratitude can be really enjoyable. It is true that more dispositionally grateful parents have more grateful children. It’s safe to assume that these parents may be modeling gratitude. We also know that these parents are more likely to place their children in situations that might evoke feelings of gratitude, such as volunteering for people in need. In addition to modeling gratitude here are other fun ways to support gratitude.
Gratitude Jar: The gratitude jar is a great way to catch each other in shining moments and to revel in those positive moments. Quite simply, you and your family members track daily at least one positive action of each family member. You write it and collect it in a jar and then review it together as a family. It helps family members to refocus attention, particularly if you’ve been in a slump with these family members.
Gratitude Tales: Telling stories that elicit gratitude or demonstrate an example of gratitude can be a great conversation starter. For example, Aesop’s “Androcles and the Lion” shares the concept of “reciprocal altruism.” That is the idea that Androcles’ kindness to the injured lion is paid back when the lion later spares Androcles life. There are many other similar stories as well!
Gratitude Letter. The concept includes writing a letter to people you’ve never properly thanked and then delivering the letter. This particular concept was first studied by the founder of the positive psychology movement, Martin Seligman. The effects of the gratitude letter can last more than a month for the writer, particularly when the writer is mature, such as an adolescent or adult.
Gratitude Journaling. You can also incorporate a regular practice of documenting the moments that evoke gratitude. If you prefer specific prompts for each day of journaling, check out 30 days of gratitude for daily prompts to last a month.
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, professional trainings, and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
I have always been an observer. This tendency doesn’t stop with people-watching. As a child, I was fortunate enough to live near a nationally-ranked well-funded zoo. For a period of time, I was certain zoology was the field for me. I remember standing gape-mouthed at my local zoo as young gorillas pulled off impressive gymnastic-quality feats and played pranks on their family members. I remember the awe and joy I felt as a mama bear and her little one did bonafide underwater handstands, purple padded feet in the air, just for the fun of it. The animals, it seemed, took genuine delight in their play. Nature is on to something. Our physical world is full of lessons.
Three Parenting Tips from Mother Nature
1. Get them moving.
Just ahead of May’s mental health awareness month, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a statement aptly titled, “To Grow Up Healthy, Children Need to Sit Less and Play More.” The title says it all really. Children are meant to move just like the vast majority of nature’s fauna. With so many sedentary activities that are full of tempting lights and binging noises, both kids and adults are struggling with inactivity, particularly the screen time takeover. It’s not good for us. And, while I certainly don’t want to discourage organized sports or scheduled workouts, natural movement is also important– movement that occurs throughout the day, not just 3 times a week for an hour.
If you see your child struggling with coordination or avoiding certain kinds of movement-based play, consider talking to an expert. They could benefit from pediatric occupational therapy. If it’s a matter of your child simply preferring the couch to the swing in the backyard, try some new strategies and make movement a family affair.
2. Throw caution to the wind.
I think back to the animals I watched in the zoo. Those gorillas and polar bears were jumping in the water, rolling in the dirt, and making a mess of things while exploring their environment. Adults swooped in to help only when it was really needed. Certainly these little ones didn’t experience their caregivers as stepping in regularly with messages of caution. No. In fact, baby animals know when their parents are serious about being careful, because they only caution when it’s really needed. Children are supposed to be messy climbing machines. That’s why your two-year-old wants to get on top of the table and doesn’t hold back in the muddle puddles.
There’s literally stuff in dirt that helps our mental and physical health. I’m not making that up. And the kind of movement that children engage in in nature– climbing trees, digging in the creek bed, splashing through the rain– those kinds of things support coordination and a sense of confidence that comes with mastery. We’ve got to get out of the way. I’m not saying there should be no rules. Surely it can be ok to let them get dirty and to let them try new physical feats from time to time though. Intervene when it’s needed, just like mama gorilla, and catch yourself the next time you say “Be careful” to your child. Was it really necessary?
3. Be one with nature.
Well, of course, Mother Nature encourages this one. Nature in and of itself is both predictable and changing, mundane and awe-inspiring. Being a quiet observer can certainly teach a child a lot about mindfulness and about how the bigger world works. Watching those gorillas all those years ago, I learned about family hierarchies and what unfiltered joy looks like. Watching the polar bears, I saw authentic mother’s love. In the trail of ants in my backyard, my children see perseverance and structure. In the quail families hiding in the weeds, they see loyalty and protectiveness. It turns out that nature is good for our mental health. Forest bathing, that is surrounding ourselves with trees leads us to be happier and healthier. Even just looking at pictures of trees (with or without leaves) leads to improved outcomes. Get your children outside! Perhaps you’ll notice an immediate improvement in their mood.
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.
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 witha 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 orkeeping 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
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.
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.
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:
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.
It’s not at all uncommon for children to feel some anxiety at the start of the school year. For some children though, it turns into nearly paralyzing fear and gets in the way of them enjoying school. Anxiety is generally a reaction to feeling out of control of a situation.
8 ways you can help your child feel in control and cope well with their return to school:
• Start transitioning into the school year morning and bedtime routine at least a week in advance
• Get to the bottom of the fear by asking them about their “worst case scenario”and determining, together, a plan for handling it
• Discuss what will be the same about next school year (not just what’s different)
• Arrange for your child to have a meet-and-greet with new teachers prior to the first day
• Mark the first day of school on a physical calendar that your child can easily see
• Take your child to practice finding their classroom and opening their locker in advance
• Email your child’s teacher with a list that your child makes that includes questions about their new teacher and what they want their teacher to know about them
• Make the first day fun (write a message on the bathroom mirror, fill their room with balloons, special breakfast, etc)
Visit Intuition Wellness Center’s School Help Pinterest page for other practical ideas for helping your child transition back to school, including: making it a great day, creating gifts for their teacher and getting them to talk about their school day.
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 guidance and a slew of other supportive services. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
Now that you’ve identified that your child is a refusal-to-put-in-the-work, acting-up, perfection-or-bust, or seeking-constant-reassurance bright kid (or just a kid with a nose), perhaps you would like some guidance? Last month I talked all about a fixed mindset and how it leads to these unfortunate presentations (and if you haven’t read it, no judgment, but you’ll want to read that post before you go any further). Then I said nothing, not even a single word, about what you could do to help your child. You were left wondering, should I say no to ribbons and trophies? Should I discourage my child from counting the freckles on her ankles? What, Dr. Baker?!? What shall I do to help my child love to learn again?!?
Do you see what I did there? So clever of me to rope you in and then leave you wondering, though I do hope that you signed up for our monthly newsletter as it gave a nice little intro to this post. Wait no longer loyal readers, here’s what you came for…
Super speedy review first!
Fixed mindset is:
A belief that your qualities are carved in stone–that you have a certain amount of talent and that’s that. In a fixed mindset, effort is only for those who can’t make it on talent and success is about being more gifted than others.
Growth mindset is:
A belief that basic qualities are things that you can cultivate through effort– that, while people may differ in initial talents, interests, aptitudes and temperaments, everyone can change and improve through application and experience. People in a growth mindset are able to look frankly at their weaknesses, challenge themselves, learn something hard and stick with it. Effort, finding strategies that work, and seeking input from others are seen as the keys to success.
We ALL have a fixed mindset sometimes. We ALL have a growth mindset sometimes. And in many cases, we have a smattering of both. However, it’s a real service to our children and ourselves to strive for a growth mindset ALL the time as too much of a fixed mindset can literally undo the natural love of learning we were all born with.
Instill a growth mindset:
Talk to your children about mindset. The very act of teaching the difference between a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset makes a difference! Research by Dr. Carol Dweck indicates that telling children about stories of a growth mindset helps them adopt a similar outlook. For an example to share, you might tell your child about some of Dweck’s research on students entering junior high who were matched on grades. Dweck concluded that those with a growth mindset improved their math grades incrementally over the course of their junior high experience while those with a fixed mindset demonstrated worsened math grades by the end of junior high. Another super fun example of how a growth mindset can be beneficial can be found in this little video that I like to show children, especially if they have interest in athletics. Spoiler alert: it includes some friendly banter between olympic runners who seem pretty committed to improvement despite their obvious success.
Model a healthy response to failure. The next time you don’t master something, you have the perfect opportunity to discuss your experience with your child. Struggling to get out the door on time in the morning? Burned the meal at dinnertime? Forgot about a deadline? These are all instances when you can fess up to your mistakes and talk out loud about how you might improve. This normalizes the learning process and reminds your child (and you) that there is always work to be done in order to get better.
Encourage studying to learn, not to memorize. Repetitive review of material to ace an exam is memorization and a lot less likely to stick than true learning of the material such as going over mistakes until you’re sure you understand them. Looking for unique strategies that suit the learner and studying with the purpose of understanding will result in better grades! It should be noted that, for those in a fixed mindset, rather than trying to repair or learn from a failure, they are likely to try to repair their self-esteem by looking for others who are worse.
Allow progress, improved learning tactics, and effort to be the basis for success. Making your 15-year-old daughter’s phone privileges dependent on her getting all A’s and B’s at school may be very tempting given how motivated she seems by her phone usage. One problem with this, however, is that it sets a tone that you value good grades not good study habits and fails to acknowledge that school is a place for learning (and seems to suggest that she should have mastered the subject already). A better strategy? Praise your child for improvements in study habits. Question how she studied and discuss how well those tactics worked for her or help her study and have a conversation about what you notice. Reinforce the work that your child puts into learning (such as attending after school tutoring or asking for additional practice). Don’t emphasize scores, grades, or trophies.
Teach the importance of strategy and goal-setting. Think of a time you were enjoying doing something and then it got hard and you wanted out. Unless you were just in it for fun, chances are that you didn’t have a realistic perspective on the work that it would require. If there’s something that your child enjoys and wants to get better in, help him create realistic, short-term goals for himself and figure out what he needs to achieve it. Consider hiring a coach or tutor and creating a practice schedule. If your 5-year-old son is expressing interest in learning how to write all of his letters by the end of summer, make a plan to introduce 2 or 3 new letters each week and help him map it out on a calendar so he can see his progress toward achieving his goal. Praise his work toward his goals.
Use the word “yet” regularly. People with a fixed mindset thrive when things are safely within their grasp. Depending on a person’s current capacity, this could signal some pretty big limitations. The concept of “yet” is simple. If your child says, “I don’t understand the math…” you add ”YET!” Again, this sends the message that working toward something is the norm and reinforces a value around effort.
Stop saying “You’re so smart.” In fact, re-think labels altogether. Labeling someone as smart actually has a negative impact on them! Likewise, saying things like, “Ben is such an artist” or “Elizabeth is so bright, she got an A without even studying” lead to Ben thinking to himself “I shouldn’t try too hard, they’ll see I’m not that talented” and Elizabeth thinking “I better not study or they won’t think I’m bright.” Making these sort of statements devalues the effort needed to be exceptional at things and reinforces a fixed mindset.
There you have it folks– 7 things that you can do that I guarantee will help you and your child begin to love learning again. One more reminder also that no one is ALWAYS in a growth mindset. If you’ve been making some mistakes due to fixed mindset issues, you’re one of many. Now that you know these things, put on your observation goggles. You’ll notice lots of opportunities to support a growth mindset in your children. Know also that a lot of this may not feel intuitive since many of us were the victims of empty praise ourselves, but don’t give up just because you haven’t mastered the growth mindset… yet!
At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. If you think you need more than what this mindset series offered or, if after trying this, you still think your child (and/or those around her) could use some extra support, call us. We offer school success consultations and a variety of evaluations as well as parent guidance and a slew of other supportive services. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
You might also pop on over to our Facebook or Pinterest pages for lots more great stuff.
Written by: Brandy Baker, PsyD
Image Credit: Steven Depolo. via creativecommons.org
With in-depth minute-by-minute coverage of news now literally at our fingertips, it’s impossible to shield our children from the tragedies of the world. While this may be ok in some cases, some children are particularly sensitive. In addition, many parents also worry about desensitizing children to violence and cruelty. If your child is fearful or anxious following exposure to a media-covered event, you may be wondering about how to proceed. For this reason, I offer some tips on how to help your child.
Talking to Children about Tragedy:
Be your child’s news source. However you decide to talk about the situation, it’s much better for the child if you’re the one who tells them. You want to be the one to set the tone and share the facts. Doing so in a calm and developmentally-appropriate way is important. Give them a break from watching the news even if they are interested in getting the latest developments. When you’re ready to turn on the news again, watch it with them so that you’re available for questions.
Follow your child’s lead. Invite them to tell you anything they may have heard about the situation and how they feel. Try not to ask leading questions. Be prepared to answer their questions, too, but avoid language that will encourage their fear and don’t give more than what they are asking for.
Validate your child’s feelings. Listen to your child and be empathic. It’s important to accept their feelings and let them know it’s ok to feel what they are feeling, but don’t give power to the fear. Help your child understand what they’re anxious about, while sending the message that “we” can handle it.
Be reassuring and realistic. Your child may be fearful because they are worried something bad could happen to them or someone they care about. Reassure them that you are going to help them get through their fear and let them know of any safety measures in place to protect them. Sometimes it may also help to talk through what would happen if your child’s fear came true. For some kids, having a plan in place helps to reduce their uncertainty and worry.
Be consistent. Kids find great comfort in the predictable and usual. Fear of something bad happening can sometimes lead to avoidant behaviors, but avoidance can actually reinforce anxiety. Keep as many things stable as possible and preserve the family routine. Sometimes just spending time with your child may help them feel safer.
Model a healthy response. Let your child see you cope with worry. Kids are very perceptive and they will notice how you manage stress and anxiety. Let your child see you managing it calmly, tolerating it, and feeling ok about getting through it. If you’re having trouble managing your own anxiety, seek support from other adults— family, friends, religious leaders, or a therapist.
Take action. Some children may feel better by taking on a prosocial pursuit in the aftermath of tragedy. Find a developmentally-appropriate activity for them to take action such as sending a card, raising money, or organizing a vigil. Help them see the good that can come out of trauma— heroic events, helpers stepping forward, etc.
Watch for signs. If your child seems to be expressing excessive fear and worry or avoiding their usual places or activities a few weeks after the event, seek consultation from their school counselor or psychologist, pediatrician or a private therapist.
At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in counseling children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
Written by: Brandy Baker, PsyD
Image Credit: Randen Pederson via creativecommons.org
January and February are heavy traffic months for us here at Intuition Wellness Center. Many children who are new to us enter through our door for the first time in the early months of the new year and most have had little or no experience in therapy. In those first meetings, many kids shyly admit that they were nervous about their first therapy appointment and they’ll often say that it was because they didn’t know what to expect. Some worry about what others might think about them.
Time and time again, parents ask us how to talk to their children about starting therapy and I’m always pleased to have that conversation, because getting a child started on the right foot sure makes a difference and we love creating that working partnership with parents. Thanks to our team members, Grai Bluez and Meg Beardmore, we now have a handy dandy little Parent Guide for Kids Counseling at Intuition Wellness Center that can be read to or with kids. Here’s a little snippet that I think other professionals might even find helpful, too.
“Sometimes kids come to therapy when problems come up and hang around like uninvited guests, taking up space in their lives and brains. Problems that some kids face are things like too much worry that makes it hard to get things done, anger that makes messes at school or in relationships, or big changes in life that can be hard to understand. Sometimes, there is more than one problem hanging around and that can be a lot for kids to deal with on their own.
Here at Intuition Wellness, we have special people called therapists who work with kids and families. Our therapists will help teach you ways to manage these uninvited guests. We have lots of different kinds of therapists and even a therapy dog.
Now that you know why some kids go to therapy, you might have other questions…”Keep reading here!
It can be an intimidating thing to start therapy services, but we know a lot of children who were nervous at first and now look forward to having a space all their own. In fact, in 2016, nearly 200 children became Intuition Wellness clients! Within minutes of that first meeting, we usually see telltale signs that kiddo is beginning to relax– they sit back a little more comfortably in their seats or ask to investigate a toy in the office; they may get down on the floor with our team therapy dog; they begin to share little bits of their internal world with us through their play or conversation. In every case, we approach children with a goal that takes priority over all others– to create a trusting relationship.
To answer a child’s questions about “Where will I go?” “What will I do?” and “How often will I come?” visit our quick guide.
At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in counseling children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
There are a few of us here at Intuition who simply cannot resist a good-natured competition. So with a joyful spirit and plenty of determination, we are taking a gratitude challenge and we invite you to join us!
Beginning on November 1st, our team members invite you to our 30-day journaling challenge that will use these easy prompts from textmyjournal.com as inspiration.
30 Days of Gratitude Journaling Prompts
What smell are you grateful for today?
What technology are you grateful for?
What color are you grateful for?
What food are you most grateful for?
What sound are you grateful for today?
What in nature are you grateful for?
What memory are you grateful for?
What book are you most grateful for?
What place are you most grateful for?
What taste are you grateful for today?
What holiday are you grateful for?
What texture are you grateful for?
What abilities are you grateful for?
What sight are you grateful for today?
What season are you grateful for?
What about your body are you grateful for?
What knowledge are you grateful for?
What piece of art are you grateful for?
What touch are you grateful for today?
Who in your life are you grateful for?
What song are you most grateful for?
What story are you grateful for?
What tradition are you grateful for?
What challenge are you grateful for?
What moment this week are you most grateful for?
What form of expression are you most grateful for?
What small thing that you use daily are you grateful for?
What small thing that happened today are you grateful for?
What friend/family member are you grateful for today?
What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for?
At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in counseling children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
The last time you went to the dentist and she reminded you to floss more regularly, maybe you nodded or giggled nervously, but certainly you didn’t walk out of her office thinking, “What a ridiculous suggestion!” You accepted it as a reasonable recommendation. And when you told yourself, “Self, it’s time to take better care of your teeth,” I doubt that your next thought was, “Gee, I’m so selfish and overindulgent.” Perhaps it’s because an expert told you to do it or perhaps it’s because it’s widely accepted in our culture that flossing is part of a solid oral hygiene routine, but for whatever reason you knew it was the right thing to do.
I’m making no judgments about whether you kept up your oral hygiene commitment. I am, however, making a judgment about our society’s lack of attention to the importance of psychological hygiene– the things that we do (or should be doing) on a regular basis to maintain good mental health. As a society, we seem to be a bit slower to jump on that bandwagon though there are some pretty clear reasons why to pursue it further. Intrigued? Good.
6 things to pay attention to right now for better psychological hygiene:
Mindfulness. This is about being in the present moment– the right now– with intention and without judgment. With the fast-paced chaos many of us currently live in, a mindfulness practice is becoming more important than ever. Greater Good in Action and Mindful.org are two great resources for lots of easy activities.
Social Support. Hands down, social support is the most important buffering factor in times of stress, adversity and trauma. There are a series of fantastic long-term studies on this topic, which suggest that, for a child, the perception of having at least one invested adult is a significant protective factor.
Play. Well, of course! In this wildly hectic world, adults and children alike are becoming workaholics and achievement addicts. It’s not that we can’t get enjoyment from work or school, but certainly a healthy balance is necessary. With the positive psychology movement, we’ve now learned about the importance of awe and the concept of flow, which are sometimes nice benefits of play.
Did you know that first aid for mental health also exists? Yup. It’s a real thing. It’s what you should do if you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis or a metaphorical emotional bruise, scrape or cut. I’d encourage you to read about it also.
My colleagues and I at Intuition Wellness Center specialize in counseling children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
Written by: Brandy Baker, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist
Image by Yann (talk) – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7866365
We have exciting news about a new Taekwondo Wellness therapy group for kids ages 7 and up that will be starting on May 24, 2016 at Intuition Wellness Center. We are currently accepting referrals for kids, teens, and adults who may benefit from an alternative approach to overcoming emotional, behavioral, and social challenges. The cost will be $35 per 60 minute group session. We are a provider for BCBS insurance and group therapy services may be billable. Please note that this can be an adjunct to current counseling services or a standalone service for clients.
Please call 520-333-3320 to register or visit us online to learn more about Taekwondo Wellness therapy groups and other services we provide. Here are two flyers, one for kids TKD and the other for teens and adults TKD. Please feel free to email (email@example.com) or call (520-333-3320) if you have any questions about Taekwondo Wellness therapy groups. Below is a bit more info about Taekwondo Wellness.
Taekwondo Wellness Difference
What sets Taekwondo Wellness apart from your typical Taekwondo school? We incorporate three distinct services into our classes that are aimed at helping youth, adults and their families improve their mental health and family and peer dynamics. The first key component is psycho-education, which teaches psychological hygiene, coping skills, and social skills. The second key component is parent coaching that helps families improve their communication and interactions with their kids and others. Mindfulness meditation is the third key component, which is incorporated into each session to take advantages of its many benefits such as improved attention span, pain relief, and decreases in anxiety to name a few.
Taekwondo Wellness Core Curriculum
Clinical Interview & Treatment Plan: Participants will each be evaluated by one of our clinicians who will help identify mental health needs and treatment plan.
Taekwondo Philosophy: Students will learn about the core Taekwondo principles and how yin jang concepts of Taoism can be applied to our daily lives to reach a state of harmony.
Poomsae: Students will learn and practice a set pattern of defensive and offensive techniques as a means of improving power, speed, and balance while striving for self refinement.
One Step & Self Defense: Students will learn to apply Taekwondo blocking and striking techniques to real-life situations building self-esteem and sense of security.
Olympic Style Sparring: Intermediate rank students will learn sparring rules, skills, and strategies of Taekwondo sparring while developing good sportsmanship, coordination, balance, self control, and self-reliance.
Board Breaking: Students will learn to focus their minds and overcome fear to achieve feats of strength and build confidence.
Physical Fitness: Through rigorous exercises using interval training students will see improvements in their endurance and strength as well as managing their weight.
Flexibility Training: Students will practice stretching regularly for improved range of motion not only for higher kicks but for its physical and stress relieving benefits as well.
Psycho-education & Mental Training: Students will learn about self talk, goal setting, and energy, stress and anger management in addition to other psychological issues and risk factors.
Parent Coaching: Parents observing class will get parenting tips and learn how to manage or redirect unwanted child or adolescent behavior.
Meditation: Students will learn and practice mindfulness meditation for its physical and psychological benefits, including stress, pain, and mood management.
Body Awareness: Students will became aware of their bodily sensations and the difference between tension and relaxation, as well as, a better understanding of how stress can be stored in the body.
Fun: Last, but not least, is fun! Students will laugh, smile, and have lots of fun while practicing Taekwondo. Humor has been shown to have physical benefits such as boosting our immune systems and energy and diminishing pain, in addition to improving mood and relieving stress.
Written by Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist
Have you heard? We recently expanded our team with not one, but THREE new team members. We could not be more ecstatic to introduce you to:
Gina Babunovic – Gina is our new Administrative Assistant and customer care extraordinaire. Gina joined our team in January to help us better serve our growing client base. Gina is a jack of all trades on our team. She works to ensure each potential new client receives a proper introduction; welcomes children and families to our office; keeps our waiting area feeling cozy and safe; helps solve insurance puzzles; and so much more. Gina is a whiz with words and keeps us all laughing.
Emily Fenton – Emily joins us as a Child and Family Clinician and all-around kid expert. Emily began integrating into our team in early March; she will begin offering counseling appointments for children and their families beginning in mid-April. Emily brings extensive experience to Intuition Wellness Center, having worked with children as young as five years old. She is super organized, full of kindness, and a real pro when it comes to offering parenting support, group therapy, and animal-assisted therapy, among other services.
Luco – Luco is a Labrador Retriever and our team’s first-ever therapy dog! Luco knows how to reach and help children and partners up with Emily to offer animal-assisted therapy. Luco is a big guy with soft eyes, is extremely patient and just plain sweet. We call him a gentle giant.
If you haven’t met Gina, Emily or Luco yet and would like to, let us know!
Love is an utterly important emotion for the development of children, catalyzing them to create strong healthy attachments to their parents, to others, and improving life satisfaction. That is because humans are social beings that thrive on being and feeling connected to others and there is not doubt that our psychosocial environments impact not only our brain development but also our genes. Our brains and genetics, are hard wired to love and protect our children otherwise our species would have gone extinct. When children do not feel loved, they may be at risk of mental health problems such as anxiety and depressive disorders. So here are four ways to show your love for your children no matter what age they are.
Your actions speak louder than your words:
So demonstrate that your kid is a priority by behaving in a way that lets them know they are important to you. For example, be present when talking to them by making eye contact or looking at them. You would be surprised how many parents have conversations with their children while distracted on the phone, watching tv, putting on makeup, or engaging in some other activity.
Also, if you say you are going to do something, do it! Teens often share their disappointment about their parents not following through on their word. It’s one thing to have to cancel once but when parents consistently don’t follow through, kids may interpret that as not being worthy of love or your attention.
Express affection. I know that every family is different in how they express affection whether it’s through snuggles or hugs or kisses or some other manner. The important concept is that you express affection towards your child so that they feel loved and internalize the believe that they deserve to be loved. It is a common pitiful to pull away love from kids when they misbehave, sending them the message that they are only love if they behave in a certain way rather than unconditionally. Instead, try to let them know how you feel but that you still love them. Teach them that one can be angry at someone but still love them very much.
Have fun together. Their is much to be said about the importance of laughter and fun. It is a good way to convey the message that they are valued, and have something to offer. It’s also conveys the message that you want to spend time together and enjoy each others company.
Ultimately it comes down to demonstrating to your children that they are important and loved, no matter what, so that they go on to grow up into adults who believe they are worth loving. Remember children believe they get the love they deserve because they don’t no any better or don’t know how love is expressed in other families. So make a commitment to have fun, be present and express love and affection to your children with consistent follow through, as it will impact their whole lives.
Subscribe to our wellness blog for more tips (see the far right column of this page or the bottom of the page if you’re using your mobile phone) or pop on over to our Facebook or Pinterest pages for lots more great stuff.
My colleagues and I at Intuition Wellness Center specialize in counseling children, teens, and families. We have clinicians who specialize in working with families overcoming challenging patterns. If you believe you or someone you love could benefit from our services, we are here to help. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
Written by Yoendry Torres, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist
Yoga and meditation methods have been applied in the treatment of depression and anxiety by western health care providers since the 1970’s. So what is yoga? How does it help with mental health challenges? And can it also be helpful for children who are experiencing challenges?
Before being able to understand how yoga might be helpful it is important to understand that there is often a physical as well as a psychological component to mental health challenges. Here’s the key, the cognitive or psychological struggles often found in mental health challenges are not separate from the body AND the associated physical challenges negatively impact our way of thinking. We are looking at two sides of the same coin.
The practice of yoga generally combines a series of postures called asanas, with specific types of breathing in conjunction with a meditation and/or a time of relaxation. Asana in conjunction with breath is used to support relaxation and to increase body awareness. Improved body awareness helps provide feedback to us regarding our emotional state as well as the impact of our thoughts and choices. By learning to control the breath, we can also learn to regulate our emotions. Additionally, yoga directly impacts many of the physiological challenges associated with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
June is a great month for men of all ages to take time to reflect on their health and wellbeing, as it is Men’s Health Month. There are a number of health issues impacting men such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer, but this blog post will focus on mental health issues affecting men, particularly depression and suicide.
Suicide is a lethal symptom of depression and should not be taken lightly. Although women tend to have higher rates of depression, men are still susceptible to experiencing its debilitating symptoms. In fact, the CDC reported that between 2009 and 2012, 5.8% men ages 18-39, 7.2% men ages 40-59, and 3.4% men over 60 years old experienced moderate to severe symptoms of depression. More importantly, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2010 and men comprised 79% of all US suicides according to a CDC suicide data sheet; in addition, the CDC reported in the same data sheet that men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Sadly, men, like most Americans (about 65%), do not seek out treatment with a mental health professional for severe depressive symptoms, which include suicidal thoughts. People suffering from depression also tend to give less attention to their medical needs, which can lead to medical complications or the development of chronic illnesses. If that doesn’t give you something to think about then consider the impact your health can have on others, particularly your family.
Thoughts that no one cares often accompanies feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide. But, that is likely not the case since most people experiencing depression have family members who are deeply concerned for them and would be devastated if they committed suicide. Children and partners are often the most affected but parents, grandparents, extended family, and friends would also suffer tremendously at the loss of a loved one.
Father’s Day falls on Sunday, June 21st, and can act as a annual reminder for the important role that men have in families, especially to their children. If you are experiencing any of the warning signs of depression (summarized below), please seek out a mental health professional that can help you. Depression is a treatable disease.
Signs of depression:
Feelings of sadness nearly every day of the week
Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and helplessness
Anhedonia (loss of pleasure in activities one used to love to do)
Problems sleeping either too much or too little
Appetite or weight changes
Difficulty concentrating and focusing
Decreased energy and feelings of fatigue
Thoughts of suicide
I have also included some men’s health resources that can help you connect to more information about these issues or to a mental health professional.
My colleagues and I at Intuition Wellness Center specialize in counseling children, teens, and families. We have clinicians who specialize in treating depression. If you believe you or someone you love could benefit from our services, we are here to help. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
Written by Yoendry Torres, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist
Years ago I worked as a therapist in a quiet affluent suburb of Chicago. Little did most people know that tucked away on a side street in a series of unassuming red brick buildings, a teen residential program housed and was home to roughly 30-35 inner city teenagers. These kids had almost all come from a very disadvantaged background and were now considered “wards of the state.” While all unique, the kids in this program all had at least two things in common— they had suffered tremendously in their decade or two of life and they had survived.
I won’t go into their stories, because they aren’t mine to share, but I will say that I still can’t explain how I stomached reading their stacks of case files measured in feet rather than inches and wrought with details of who, when, how, and how much. They pushed me away, sometimes literally and often figuratively. It wasn’t easy to love children who had convinced themselves that they were unloveable, but I loved them anyway and I learned a lot about love from them. I learned about resilience and hope and vulnerability. I still learn from them when I replay our interactions in my mind. Usually, I smile when I think of them, because I remember the times that I came home exhausted from our snowboarding trips or our group art evenings or jumping rope or dressing up in silly costumes. Working with these children was the epitome of a life-altering experience. While I had long been interested in the concept of resilience, the kids that I served in those years were the first of many who utterly and totally embodied the spirit of a bounce-back kid.
Now I work with a very different population in a private practice setting. Most of the families who come to see me have many resources, most of the children live with a biological or adoptive parent or other extended family member, and rarely do the children come to me with stacks of papers detailing their time “in the system.” Most of the kids I see these days have not experienced child maltreatment firsthand, but these kids are bounce-back kids, too. Many have been through tough times— divorce, school challenges, acutely traumatic events, family conflict, self-doubt, friendship difficulties, worry, or sadness. They never fail to impress me.
Whether from a gang-infested neighborhood where violence is the ultimate in conflict resolution or from a quiet cul de sac where tutoring and swim team are the main events, children are deserving of protection and reverence. I urge you, in this month dedicated to Child Abuse Prevention, to think about additional ways to support and preserve childhood.
Here are a few things that you can do to protect children:
My colleagues and I at Intuition Wellness Center specialize in counseling children, teens, and families. We have clinicians who specialize in cultivating resilience in your child. If you believe you or someone you love could benefit from our services, we are here to help. Call 520-419-6636 for a free phone consultation.
Written by Brandy Baker, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist
Did you know that January is thyroid awareness month? Problems with the thyroid, a gland in your neck, can manifest in anxiety or depressive symptoms. There are two types of thyroid problems that can develop gradually over years:
Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms include:
Decreased metabolic rate
Increased sensitivity to cold
Reduced heart rate
Reduced blood pressure
Hyperthyroidism signs and symptoms include:
Increased metabolic rate
Like many diseases, symptoms can gradually become more severe if left untreated. Moreover, many of these symptoms mimic depressive and anxiety disorders and are sometimes misdiagnosed as such. If you have been experiencing depressive or anxiety symptoms, it is a good idea ask your primary care physician to help you determine if there is any medical cause for what your are experiencing.
Here are a few resources if you want to learn more about hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism:
Intuition Wellness Center specializes in looking at clients as a whole, which means that we are not just treating symptoms but rather assessing lifestyles factors, considering medical as well as psychological causes, and social influences to help determine the best course of treatment. If you believe you are struggling with anxiety or depression, we are here to help. Call 520-419-6636 for a free phone consultation.
Written by: Yoendry Torres, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist