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Good Intentions, Bad Advice

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http://kutv.com/features/fresh-living/clair-mellenthin-llc-good-intentions-bad-advice

Clair Mellenthin visited Fresh Living to talk about what you should do in that situation. She says it’s important to trust yourself as a parent, and when you are needing advice, seek out information from trusted sources.

5 Way to Deal With “Advice”

  1. Smile, and say “Thank you” then walk away (and then choose to either toss it to the wind or think about it later)
  2. Ask how this advice has worked with their own child
  3. You have permission to just say, “You know, its a bad day today” and not justify your or your child’s behaviors to others
  4. Say “Parenting is a tough job some days. Its lucky I love this little guy”
  5. Set a boundary- if someone is overstepping their role in your or your child’s life, it is okay to set a limit and tell them no (wait! This is parenting right?!)

For more information from Clair, visit wasatchfamilytherapy.com or call (801) 944-4555

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How to Help Your Child Learn Mindfulness

How to Help Your Child Learn Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a topic that has received a lot of attention from psychology and wellness gurus in recent years. It refers to being present in the moment and cultivating an awareness, non-judgment, and acceptance of one’s feelings, thoughts, and body. There are numerous benefits of mindfulness; those who regularly engage in meditative mindfulness practices report reduced stress, better sleep, improved productivity, lower levels of stress and bodily discomfort and pain, and even weight loss.
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With all the perks of mindfulness, it only makes sense to introduce this concept and practice to young people, particularly because adolescence can be an anxious and uncomfortable experience for many children and teenagers (this idea seems to be catching on; some are even introducing mindfulness into school curriculums, and certain gyms offer classes of yoga specifically for children!)
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By teaching them how to get in touch with their feelings, we can help them prepare for a lifetime of mental and emotional wellness. Here are some ideas to help children practice mindfulness on a daily basis:
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4 Tips for Working with a Discouraged Child

canstockphoto11822062Four tips for working with a discouraged child…

When working with a discouraged child, work to see them as a discouraged individual. Feeling discouraged isn’t just an emotion experienced by children, it is a very relatable feeling that adults often experience as well. Children, while developmentally less mature, are not experiencing something you lack the ability to empathize with. So lets start there! Empathy can soften even the most escalated situations. Now that we are going into this situation with empathy, explore how the four tips below could be implemented when you encounter a situation with your child who may be experiencing a moment of discouragement

1. How would you want someone to react to you if you were discouraged? Think back to a time when you last felt discouraged. How would you have like a loved one to respond to you? What would have felt good, comforting and supportive? Begin to respond to your child in a similar fashion.

2. How can you encourage the child to self-soothe and problem solve independently? Encourage your child to identify the state of discouragement and empower them to problem solve to help themselves to find relief and solutions.

3. Offer yourself as a resource but don’t insist on being one. When a child is discouraged it may be nice to know they are not alone and that you are there as a resource in their life to offer support when they feel they need it. You might say something like. “I can see you are discouraged right now. I know you are a great problem solver but if you need any help problem solving or if you just need a hug, I am here for you”

4. Acknowledge, validate and commend your child for overcoming a challenging emotional experience. When you see your child may be de-escalating, has successfully problem solved, or is just finding their way through feeling discouraged, acknowledge them and their emotional work. That might look something like this. “Wow, I could see that you were really discouraged and I bet that was tough, but you really handled that nicely and found a way to help yourself through it and/or coped with that discouragement really well. I am happy you are starting to feel better”

If you identify that you may have a child struggling beyond your and their ability to cope with everyday emotions it may be a great time to explore the idea of seeking professional support. A licensed therapist can support you and your child in exploring ways to cope with difficult emotions and emotional reactions. Connecting with a therapist during hard times can aid in coping strategies and building family skills!

Melanie works closely with children, teens and parents to develop healthy and positive coping strategies. If you would like to schedule a session with Melanie D. Davis, CMHC, NCC contact Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555

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4 Questions Every Parent Should Ask Their Child’s Teacher

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It’s Parent-Teacher conference time for many local school districts, and making those brief meetings as productive as possible is on everybody’s mind. Most likely, your child’s teacher is prepared with a specific list of items to discuss and that’s a good thing! It’s a clear indication of a teacher who’s prepared a plan to guide your child’s instruction and who can speak specifically to where your child ‘is’ in terms of  her progress.

Does that mean parents should be passive during conferences? No – and most likely teachers would enjoy more of an exchange anyway. While it can often feel a bit rushed and there can be a lot of information to choose from to discuss during a conference, theses four areas may help you organize exactly what questions are important to ask during your child’s parent teacher conference this spring.

  1. Homework. While homework is not ‘class work’ or even necessarily an emphasis of school work, it does speak to ‘soft skills’ related to school functioning. For example, how well a student is able to keep organized, work independently, follow-through with assignments, and so on. Some questions to consider as a parent might be are: is my child turning in assignments on time? Is the work completed in an acceptable manner?
  2. Class participation. Get feedback from your child’s teacher regarding her observations of your child’s engagement in classroom. Do they appear prepared? Do they listen and follow directions? Cooperate? A student’s functioning regarding following the structure and routine of the class is important, and sometimes is hard for parents to pick up on if not asked directly.
  3. Social-emotional observations and/or feedback. Hopefully you have a good sense of your child’s relationship with his teacher. However, you may want to consider getting direct feedback. Asking for direct feedback regarding your child’s relationship(s) with the teacher, other adults, and/or other students may be helpful. Does your child get along well with other students? Manage frustration well? Social-emotional functioning in school is a significant factor regarding how well a student well perform.
  4. Academics. Not just grades and progress on standardized tests, but is your child able and comfortable asking for help? Does she preserver regardless of task difficulty? Is this a strength, weakness, something to work on?

 

At best, your relationship with your child’s teacher is positive and open communication has already been established. If not, through considering these types of questions, your child’s teacher is aware that you’ve given careful thought and consideration to aspects of learning that occur both in and out of the classroom. Of course, you’re asking these in the spirit of wanting to work together to build on your child’s strengths in order to improve on weaker areas. These kinds of questions – hopefully –  send a signal to your child’s teacher that you want their feedback and that you are ready and willing to help.

Need help having conversations with your child’s teachers?

Consider talking to your child’s school psychologist.

Amy Folger at WFT can be a resource!

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Clair Mellenthin LLC: Rise in Depression in Preschoolers

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Clair Mellenthin visited Fresh Living to talk about depression in preschool age children.

Click the link below to see what Clair has to say!

http://kutv.com/features/fresh-living/clair-mellenthin-llc-rise-in-depression-in-preschoolers

 

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Worst Things to Say to a Child Who is Grieving

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Most of us struggle in knowing how to give comfort to an adult who is experiencing a loss or death of a loved one, let alone a child.  We often struggle with understanding death as adults and attempt to protect children from having to experience this same mess of emotions as we are.   Many adults are uncomfortable discussing death and dying and use phrases that may be misunderstood by children.   At times however, our well-intentioned messages do the complete opposite of giving comfort!  Here are the top five to avoid!

1- “He/She is in a better place now”

This can be such a confusing statement to a child (or anyone struggling).  What could be better than being here alive with me?? This type of a message can unintentionally cause the child to internalize a belief that “I must have done something bad” or “I must be bad” if being dead is better than being alive and spending time together.  A better thing to say is, “Your Mom  can’t feel any more pain or suffering now because she has died and her body isn’t able to feel these things now”.

2- “We lost your Grandpa”

A young child is going to be very confused by this.  They may wonder “Did Grandpa run away?”  or  “What?! Grandpa is lost?  Let’s go find him!”.  The child may worry about their loved ones health and feel anxious if they are safe or being taken care of by someone nice.  They may worry about them being alone and scared, which is exactly how a child would feel if they were lost too!  A better thing to say is “Grandpa died last night” and answer what questions your child may have about his death.

3- “He/She has gone to sleep and won’t ever wake up”

Young children may become very scared to go to sleep after hearing this, after all, if this happened to Aunt Thelma, then it could happen to them also if they go to sleep!  Many children struggle with sleeping in their own beds following the death of a loved one, as nighttime and being alone in their bed is a perfect combination for their worries and imagination to take hold and create very scary possibilities.  It is normal for a child to experience some regression during this time, they may begin bedwetting, climbing into the parent’s bed, struggling with falling and staying asleep, as well as refusal to be alone.

4- “He/She has passed away”

This is a typical phrase we use culturally to describe the death of someone.   However, most children do not know the definition of  “passed away” is actual death.  A better way to describe death to a child is to say, “Uncle Joe died today.  This means that his heart is no longer beating, his mind isn’t thinking, his lungs no longer work and he has stopped breathing.  His body can’t feel any pain or cold or discomfort”.  Some adults feel uncomfortable about being this upfront or frank about death, but  this is actually a really important lesson every single human needs to learn.  Every single person will both live and die at some point.  It is okay to talk about this openly and honestly.

5- “You should feel happy now that they are in heaven”

Who has ever felt happy when someone has died??  You may feel peace or tenderness or even relief,  but most humans do not experience feelings of happiness and joy as part of their grieving process.  When we say statements like this to kids (or adults) we unintentionally are shaming them for feeling otherwise.  Happy may be the very last emotion they are feeling at this point in time. There are no “shoulds” in grief, especially in childhood grief.  A better way to say this is, “Its okay to feel sad and mad and any other feeling you may feel right now”.

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‘Help Your Child Thrive in School and Beyond’ – National School Psychology Awareness Week 2015

SCHOOL KIDS

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.

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5 Tips for Creating Emotional Security for Your Children

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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.

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7 Rules in Shame-Based Families

Teen Family Time
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.
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Help With Homework? Re-frame Your Approach This Year

SCHOOL KIDS

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.

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