I was lucky enough to be featured on Dr. Christina Hibbert’s podcast Motherhood a few weeks ago. We spent an hour talking about the importance of Moms in their child’s life- focusing on the power of play!
Play is a crucial part of healthy development for our children, and guess what? It’s an essential part of a healthy YOU, too. Through play, we can better understand our children, their needs, and what we can do to help them through the hard times. We can also strengthen relationships and build connections that last a lifetime. And when we approach life and motherhood more playfully, we not only set the example for our kids; we actually learn, create, relax, and live better, too. In this episode, I’m talking with Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, an expert on play therapy, and she’s got some valuable lessons each of us needs to hear about the power of play—for us, for our children, and for our families. Don’t miss this fun, fact-filled, play-inspiring episode! And visit my website DrChristinaHibbert.com for more on this and other “Motherhood” topics!
We live in a technology-saturated world, and our kids are often more adept at the newest gadgets than we are! I’ve found that parents are sometimes weary about the newest developments in the tech world. But these are the times we live in, and the internet will never go away. The online world can improve our lives or it can distance us, so I invite adults to embrace the good it can bring. However, there are certain skills that our children may be (somewhat) lacking in how to function and have relationships in a non-virtual way. Here are 5 real life skills for high-tech kids.
As discussed in the first part of this series, couples often face challenges between the two of them during the holiday season. However, the stress doesn’t stop there. Couple’s often find themselves struggling to enjoy the season because of family-related issues, and the pressure that can come from trying to celebrate with everyone that is important to them. In the second part of this series, I contribute to sharing some helpful ways for couples to navigate through these obstacles, and make the holidays enjoyable for everyone.
The end of the year can be such a special opportunity for couples to connect in unique ways, and strengthen the relationship that exists between them. Don’t let the potential stress of this time prevent you and your partner from taking this opportunity, and having a very happy holiday season!
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a topic that comes up frequently throughout my week; as a school psychologist in an elementary school, teachers often refer students for suspected problems with attention and concentration, hyperactivity, and impulse control difficulties. In my outpatient practice, I’m on the ‘other side’ of this equation, meeting with families often referred from school teams for suspected problems of this nature. Typically, these referrals seem appropriate and everyone is on the same page. Occasionally, the members are not. As in, ‘my child’s teacher told me my child has ADD and needed accommodations! Now what?!’ It gave me pause and consideration for this weeks blog. Just who can and can’t diagnosis ADHD ? What might an assessment for ADHD include? Should school staff be bringing this subject up to parents to begin with? And, is it ADD or ADHD ?
This week happens to be National School Psychology Awareness Week. In an effort to promote our profession and provide an understanding of what it is that we do – because it seems to be ever evolving, changing, and growing – each year the national association designates a week in November to present a message to the public about school psychology.
Helping Students and Families Connect the Dots and Thrive in School and Beyond.
School psychologists are trained to support and help students build their strengths, skills and abilities and realize their goals. Specifically, we have the expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. We help students build upon their strengths, skills, interests, and abilities to ‘connect the dots’ and thrive. This includes helping them identify and plan ways to accomplish short and long term goals, building better relationships, and finding ways to keep going even when things get tough.
As many in our community may wrestle with high emotion and confusing thoughts and opinions related to incredibly important matters of faith, family, belief, and hope for the future, being accepting and loving towards everyone, even those that are very different from us, while challenging, may be more important than ever. Kids in school, especially as they get older, become notoriously peer focused! Who is getting the A? Who has the coolest phone? Who does the teacher call on the most? Who got asked to the dance? Etc. Etc. Supporting our kids to be true to themselves, yet accepting of others can be such a difficult task.
5 Tips for creating emotional security and safety for your children when they are away from home.
It is often discussed how to create a loving home that encompasses safety, love, and security. We validate, empower and create open dialogue, encouraging our children to have voices amongst other things. However, the world and especially school environments can be very different from home. There are different elements to consider and prepare for to assist in creating a feeling of safety and emotional security for our children while in these environments outside of home.
Prepare your children for various encounters, The world can be a tricky place to navigate. Even for adults, we encounter social situations that can be tough to navigate, and know how to react. Helping your children to understand the various encounters they may have while outside your home can help reduce anxiety, and prepare them to handle these encounters with confidence. How to interact with the bus driver, the teacher who may scold you, the children in the class who may have buddied up, the adults at church that say hello, are all wonderful encounters to prepare your child for. Help them with ideas for these types of scenarios based on your families ideals and personal values.
Role Play. Don’t let the classic “What would you do if?” questions disappear into he closet with your past! These are still present and relevant questions to present to your child. What would do if you were left out at school? What would you do if you were being treated unkindly? What would you do if you saw someone being unkind? Role play situations like these and others with your child. It will not guarantee your child handles every situation perfectly, but it will offer them some experience and ideas to better handle situations that may present themselves when they are away from home.
Having been in school about 2 and 1/2 months, my mailbox at school is getting busier with referrals. As the school psychologist in an elementary building, there’s been ample time for teachers to identify concerning students, try individualized interventions, and monitor their progress. For some of those students who are still struggling, it’s time for including the school psychologist for some discussion with the parents: should we be considering testing?
How and when should parents and teachers begin to consider a child for testing?
What should you expect if you decide to move forward with testing?
As my well trained teachers know, lack of sufficient growth to grade level instruction can be an early indication, along with insufficient rate of growth despite individualized intervention. Because of changes in the law that governs special education and testing, most school districts require some period of intensive, individualized interventions either prior to testing or as part of the evaluation. This is called ‘response to intervention’ or R.T.I.Throughout this time period, the expectation is that the student’s response to the intervention (progress) is monitored and documented. This is an important concept to keep in mind and to consider prior to initiating the testing process or, at the very least, to understand once testing is underway.
Shame has been a popular psychotherapy topic in social media lately and due to its fame it is frequently on my mind. Today I’ve been thinking specifically about shame-based families and how this toxic feeling is often handed down through generations.
Shame can be passed through a family in myriad ways. A common path is for it to travel through family rules. With some prompting, maybe you can recall some of your family’s rules. What rules did your family have about touching and sexuality? What were the rules regarding marriage, money, vacations, religion, socializing…?
In John Bradshaw’s Healing the Shame That Binds You he outlines 7 rules that are maintained by shame-based families.
The school year is now underway, and for most of us, that can only mean one thing. It’s just a matter of days before ‘it’ begins, ‘mom, where is my science book? I know it was in my book bag and now it’s gone!’ or ‘dad, YOU SAID you would help me with my English!’ Homework season has begun.
When did homework become so intense, so stressful? Does it have to be this way? Here are just a few ideas to re-frame the homework experience to make it easier on you and help you remember why we do it at all.
Pro or con, the homework debate has been going on for as long as most of us can remember. How much is enough? Is it worth it? Should you monitor your child? Most research leans towards yes, generally speaking, though not always in the way we might think. Overall, a good rule of thumb is approximately 10 minutes per grade, so a first grader completes about 10 minutes, and so on.
For many parents, the beginning of the school year not only brings a sigh of relief, but also a feeling of panic with the emergence of the endless school supply lists, homework, and trying to get not just to bed on time but to school! For many children and teens however, the first few weeks of school are not just a struggle because they are mourning the lazy days of summer. Many kids experience anxiety and really struggle adjusting, especially if it is one of the “firsts” – 1st grade, the start of junior high, high school, and the senior year. These are major milestones as well as rites of passage for kids growing up into adulthood, with many hurdles and the unknown of what to expect. Click on the link below to watch this segment for tips for parents on how to move through these first few weeks smoothly as we calm the Back To School Jitters.