All posts in Children

The Sexualization of Young Girls: KUTV News

Most parents would be horrified to think of their little girl as a sexualized object in our society, but that is what “smart” marketing is doing without our conscious awareness. Watch for my tips on how to protect your children from this cultural phenomenon as well as ways parents can teach their children their individual worth, beauty, and self-esteem.



Easing First Grade Jitters: Tips For Back To School

Many parents with kids entering first grade are shocked about how big this transition is for their child. They go from being in school part of the day or even part of the week in kindergarten to being in school for the full day. This is a full day without mom and dad, without the comforts of home and without knowing what to expect. Often times many first graders develop anxiety for the first couple of weeks and may exhibit some regressive behaviors during that time. Watch the video to learn some tips for helping your kids get through this transitional period.



Moms With 3 Kids Most Stressed: KSL News

A recent survey on found that mothers with 3 children report the highest level of stress – more stress than moms who have 4 or more children.

KSL news reported Devan Dolan reached out to me to see why I think moms with 3 children report the most stress.



Becoming a Stepfather: 3 Ways to Avoid the Creep Factor

“There’s a creep factor when all of a sudden some guy is coming into the house.” This quote by Paul Lee, a stepfather interviewed in the Salt Lake Tribune’s recent article on stepfamilies, perfectly describes the uncomfortable situation many new stepfamilies find themselves in. How do you navigate the issue of combining a group of people of different ages, genders, and genes into one family under one roof? Here are 3 tips that might help:


Is My Daughter A Bully? Studio 5

Mean girls. It’s a title that has become common conversation in parenting circles. But the mean girl syndrome is not reserved for Junior High – in fact, it’s happening in Kindergarten.

Relational bullying or the “mean girl syndrome” is affecting girls at a younger age. The mean girl phenomenon used to start around 5th or 6th grade but now we are seeing it as early as first grade. I have seen children excluded from the group for how they dress, their religion and sadly even for their weight. The behavior usually begins as a “secret club” or best friends.


6 Ways to Grow A Teen’s Self-Esteem

Many people young and old, male and female, struggle with recognizing their self-worth and their true potential in life. Often we are our worst critics. Most of us would gasp in horror if we heard another person speak out loud the thoughts we tell ourselves because it would be considered abusive!

Recently, as I was speaking to a group of young people and their parents on the topic of self-esteem, we broke down the definition of what self-esteem truly means. This is an interesting concept and I think helpful to break down into segments.



  • To esteem something is to hold it in high regard, to treasure it, to value it.
  • The self is you, the individual

How amazing it would be to think of your self in this manner. Is it possible to hold yourself in high regard, to value yourself, and to treasure it – i.e. to treasure you, the real you?


Davis County Office Opening Feb. 18th

We are very excited to announce the opening of our Davis County Office. The Location is 405 S. 100 W. Suite # 250 Bountiful, UT 84010.  We are opening Feb. 18th and  currently scheduling appointments.    Holly Willard, LCSW will be the clinical director and Heather Judd will be joining her. We will also be adding an intern in to provide reduced priced sessions ($50).


How To Talk To Your Child About Conn. Shooting

How To Talk To Your Child About Conn. Shooting

We are deeply saddened and horrified by the shootings at Sandy Hooks Elementary. If you have school aged children, it’s likely that they have been exposed to some of the disturbing news of these past couple days.  Here are some helpful hints and guidelines in opening a discussion with your children about this event and their fears surrounding it.

1. Talk to your children about their worries. Provide a validating environment where the child can express their concerns and feelings. Start the discussion by asking what they know about the event.  Follow the child’s lead. Some want to talk about it, some will be quiet. Spend time together doing activities or playing. This provides a time for informal sharing but more importantly it increases feelings of security.

2- Talk to your child on their level. Give kids honest information they can understand. Ask for questions. For instance, ” A bad guy made a very bad choice and hurt people.  The bad guy is dead and can not hurt anyone else.”

3- Reassure them that they are safe now. Comfort your child if they’re distressed. If your child starts having fears or nightmares, you can normalize this fear for them by giving a gentle hug and letting them know that the information is scary but they are safe with you no matter what and you will always protect them the best that you can. Avoid telling them nothing bad can ever happen. Giving them a false sense of security actually increases anxiety because it is a unrealistic view of what can be controlled.

4.  Limit their exposure to media about the event. The continuous new’s clips and updates are reminders that something frightening can happen. Seeing descriptive images can be very traumatizing. Children’s perspectives of time and place are skewed, they may not be able to differentiate how close they are to what they are seeing. Children are often unable to determine that what they are seeing is a repeat of the same event. Inform them that the images on the TV are from far away and not happening now.

5- Try to not use scary words.  Young children understand “hurt” but more descriptive words such as kill, murder, etc. are beyond their present understanding. Even older school age children who do understand the definition do not need to be told in explicit detail.

6- Teach children the skill of confronting their thoughts. Just because we think something doesn’t mean it is true. Anxiety feeds on negative thoughts so help them learn how to replace their scary thoughts with reaffirming statements. Teach distraction techniques: playing with toys, exercising, singing a favorite song, etc.

If your child’s anxiety affects their ability to function on a daily basis or is persistent for longer than thirty days, seek professional help.

Above all else, children want to know that they are loved and will be protected. So turn off the TV and give them a hug and the reassurance that they are safe and you love them. This will be the best information of all.



The Birds And The Bees: Talking To Your Child about Sex


Teaching your child about sex and safe-touch should be an ongoing discussion that starts as early as they are verbal.

1. Start by teaching them about private parts.  Explain the difference between good touch and bad touch. I like to use Your Body Belongs To You! A Coloring & Activities Book .   Tell them that no one has the right to touch their private parts and they can say no and tell someone. RadKids Rules

2. It is normal for pre-school aged children to become interested and fascinated with private parts (theirs and others). Use correct medical language, not nicknames, when discussing private parts.   Answer questions on a level consistent with their developmental age.  (i.e. they don’t need to have anatomy lessons to understand where babies come from, that comes later).   Talk to them about your personal and family values.  If your child exhibits sexual behavior, it’s important to deal with it without making them feel shame or embarrassment. Here’s a resource with more detailed information and explains the difference between normal and concerning behavior. 

3.  With school age children, parents need to be more direct regarding sexual abuse and sex education.  Some of these resources are may be too direct or differ with your values so it’s important to read before sharing them with your child.  The books do not need to be read in entirety you can pick and choose depending on your child’s questions or level of understanding.

What Every Kid Should Know About Sexual Abuse: A Coloring & Activities Book 

What’s the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys 

The Right Touch: A Read-Aloud Story to Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse (Jody Bergsma Collection)

How to Talk to Your Child About Sex: It’s Best to Start Early, but It’s Never Too Late- A Step by Step Guide for Every Age
4.  Explain maturation before the school’s presentation.

Most public schools present information about maturation in fifth grade.  Children are often easily embarrassed at this age, especially boys.  Some of them may find it more helpful to be given a book or pamphlets to read.  However, if you choose this method make sure you have a follow-up discussion with them and are available for questions.  If you are open, non-judgemental and informative it will increase the chances of them coming to you with questions instead of going to their friends. Or maybe I should say coming to you after they have heard incorrect information from their friends.

Puberty for boys: The Boys Body Book: Everything You Need To Know for Group Up You (Boys World Books)

Puberty for girls: The Care and Keeping of You (American Girl) 

The Girl’s Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up You (Girlsworld)

5. Don’t worry about giving your teen too much information about sex education. Most parents error on not providing enough information because they don’t want to “expose” them.  Unfortunately in my practice I see that tweens/teens have already been exposed to it.  Parents need to continue to teach their values in a non-judgemental way, focusing on the benefits of living those values.  Have frank discussions with them about choices and consequences.  Relate it to what their peers are doing, good and bad. I cannot stress the importance of having a strong/bonded relationship prior to having these discussions.

Sex Ed for Teens:

Changing Bodies, Changing Lives: Expanded Third Edition: A Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships

The Sex EDcylopedia: A Comprehensive Guide to Healthy Sexuality, For the Modern, Male Teen










7 Steps to Discipline That Works

When we hear the word “discipline”, we often think of something negative, because it usually means some form of punishment is being used. However, the word “discipline” actually means to instruct a person to follow a particular code of conduct. So, discipline can be a negative thing if we are using a forceful or controlling approach, but it can (and should) be a positive thing if we take a more instructive approach by teaching or guiding. The most effective and respectful type of discipline is one that respects your child’s ability to make choices for their behavior within the structure and limits you establish, and allows them to experience a natural or logical consequence for the behavior they choose. Here are 7 steps to help you establish this type of discipline in your own household:Wasatch Family Therapy