|Posted on August 1, 2018 at 9:20 PM||comments (1)|
With a new school year comes excitement, anticipation, and a sense of a fresh start. It’s the beginning of new classes, new teachers, new friendships, and sometimes even a new school campus. All of this newness can be something fun and exciting to look forward to.
For some kids, however, the beginning of school can bring on anxiety and nervousness. Not knowing what their new classes will be like, who will be in them, and who their teachers are can bring about stress and anxiety. Anxious feelings are normal and expected during times of transition or change, especially for first-timers, such as those starting kindergarten, middle school, high school, and even college. The transition can also be stressful and disruptive for the entire family.
Some common worries include:
Who will be my new teacher?
Will I have friends in my classes?
Who will I sit with at lunch?
Will I fit it?
Will I look stupid?
What if I miss the bus?
Although it is normal for your child to have worries, it is crucial to make your child attend school. Avoidance of school will only increase and reinforce your child’s fear, making it more and more difficult to attend. Besides getting behind in the schoolwork (which can create anxiety itself), children who stay home because of anxiety miss opportunities to practice social skills, developing and fostering close friendships, and being acknowledged and praised for their talents.
Below are some general strategies parents can use to deal with back-to-school worries:
Look after the basics – hunger and tiredness
Nobody copes well when they’re hungry or tired. Provide your child with adequate meals and snacks on a regular schedule. Determine an appropriate bedtime for your child based on their age and enforce it. These routines can actually help decrease your child’s anxiety.
Encourage your child to talk about their fears
Ask your child what they are worried about specifically. Set up a regular time to talk with your child when you are able to provide your undivided attention. Listen to them without judging or minimizing their concerns. Reassure them, but also help them develop a plan to cope with what they are afraid of.
Focus on the positive
Encourage your child to re-direct their attention from their worries and towards things that are positive. Ask your child what they are excited about on the first day of school.. most kids can come up with something, even if it’s going home at the end of the day. Chances are, they realize their will be fun times, but they may be overshadowed by the repetitive worries.
Pay attention to your own behavior
It can be anxiety-provoking for parents to turn their child over to their teachers. Children pick up on their parents anxiety, so the more confident you appear, the more confident your child will become. Be supportive, yet firm. When saying goodbye, say it cheerfully and only once. Don’t make good-bye a long, drawn out process. Quick and easy with confidence is always best. Lastly, be sure not to reward your child’s protests by letting them stay home. Instead, say, “I can see why going back to school makes you feel nervous and scared, but you still have to go. Tell me what you’re worried about… we can talk about it”.
Chances are, a little role-playing or problem-solving is all that it will take to make them feel better.
|Posted on January 16, 2018 at 9:20 PM||comments (0)|
Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental disorders which is why early detection and intervention is key to helping people recover and live normal lives. Here are a few warning signs that someone you care about may have an eating disorder:
1.) They tell you they're struggling with food. It is assumed that someone who has an eating disorder must be really thin and / or female. This couldn't be further from the truth. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes, gender, race, and ethnicities. If someone opens up with you that they are struggling with eating, take it seriously and encourage them to seek help.
2.) They seem to have a rigid eating or exercise program. Eating healthy is one thing, but a pattern of rigidity around only eating "safe" foods (i.e., low calorie or low fat) or meticuously monitoring their caloric intake could be a red flag. They may also deny being hungry in spite of food consumption or become emotionally distressed if forced to stray from their eating plan. Sometimes there are also abnormal rituals involving food which would also be a red flag.
3.) You've noticed they are socially isolating or avoiding social situations, especially ones that involve food. They may avoid people in order to work out or time their appearance at a social gathering to avoid food exposure. They may attempt to hide their eating by eating in secret. You may find food wrappers or notice them wearing extra layers of clothes to cover up any weight loss.
4.) You notice that someone appears to be "obsessed" with their weight and size. Conversations seem to center around dieting, losing X number of pounds, or how "bad" they were and now have to make up for it. Distress about body shape or size may also be an indication that someone could be suffering with an eating disorder.
5.) You notice that someone makes frequent trips to the bathroom after eating. This could be a sign that someone is struggling with an eating disorder, possibly bulimia. Bulimia is an eating disorder that typically involves eating an extremely large amount of food in a short period of time, followed by an atempt to get rid of the calories either by vomiting, exercsing, or laxative use. Some people will also eat what's considered a normal amount of food, but will attempt to get rid of it afterwards. Regardless of the amount of food consumed, a pattern of regular bathroom visits following eating could indicate that a person is suffering with an eating disorder.
Sometimes it takes a family member or close friend to recognize an eating disorder and put it into words that something is wrong for someone to acknowledge there's a problem. Support from family and friends is crucial throughout the reovery process. Show love and concern by demonstrating compassion and acceptance, while at the same time encouraging them to seek help from trained professionals. It often takes a team of specialists to work with these disorders successfully.
If somone you care about seems to be struggling with an eating disorder or body image issue, speak up! It could save the person from years of struggling. Early detection and intervention can greatly improve the chances of a full recovery.
Listed below are links to various organizations who support the education, prevention, and treatment of eating disorders. Pathways to Peace is also committed to helping individuals and families through this journey...
|Posted on December 13, 2017 at 6:40 AM||comments (0)|
One of the joys of my psychoherapy practice is working with teens and families. Becoming a parent myself has by far been the most rewarding and joyous experience of my life. Becoming a mother actually changed me not only as a person but as a therapist. My ablity to empathasize has increased tremendously as well as my level of insight and understanding. Becoming a mother transforms you into a new person.
As parents, seeing our children struggle with anything in life is agonizing. When we experience the beauty and joy of becoming a parent, this is not something we imagine. Yet today, teens are faced with so many challenges academically, socially, and athletically. Sometimes it's too much for an adolescent to handle by themseles and the assistance of a professiounal counselor is needed.
Making that frst call to a therapist about your child is often difficult, sometimes painful, having to face the fact that your child is struggling with something that you as a parent can't fix for them. Whether it be an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, or some other mental health issue, no parent is happy that their childs needs counseling. To those parents I can say I truly understand. Let's face it, when our children hurt, we hurt. We have an inborn desire to fix their problems. Mental health issues, however, sometimes can't just simply be fixed. Sometimes as parents the best thing we can do is seek help outside of our families...someone who doesn't know the family personally and can be objective.
Generally speaking, therapy sessions are confidential. Some adolescent therapists focus solely on the teen, leaving the parents in the dark. This is not how I work with kids. I am ALWAYS thinking about the family even when I am only working with an individual child. Parents can play a big part in their child's recovery process. With an eating disorder, this can be in the form of hands on support at mealtimes and shortly thereafter. With depressed kids, this can be in the form of listening and helping to keep the child safe. With anxiety issues, this can be in the form of making environmental changes to help reduce the stress. In addition, parents know their chld better than anyone. I welcome feedback from parents about how the child is doing both at home and in school. This information is crucial in helping me to do my job.
Regardless of the problem that brings an adolescent into therapy, I believe in working as a team. The team includes parents, sometimes siblings or extended family members, school counselors, physicians, or coaches. Together, we can provide a pathway towards healing. Together we can make a difference in a chld's life. There is no greater gift for a parent than to watch their child succeed or overcome a challenge. We can do this together...