Archive for August, 2010

AGH! My kid doesn’t want to go to school!

August 29, 2010
posted by Admin

The most common problem for parents in raising the school-aged child is anxiety.  These children worry and fret over the temporary absence of either parent.  Children can work themselves up into headaches, stomach-aches and even fainting, all over worry about a parent’s eventual return.  Parents want to know how to drop their child off to school without the whole “drama” of tears and worry. 

     Let’s talk about 5 year old Charlie, who is soon to start his first day at kindergarten.  Mom notices that when she mentions the word “school” Charlie looks down at his feet and appears forlorn.  Eventually, he will look up and slowly produce a smile to temporarily get mom off his back.  But let’s face it; Charlie is feeling allergic to “school” and is not interested in thinking about it. If your child is anything like Charlie then you have a child that is suffering from what we call “separation anxiety.” There are 6 things that a parent can do to relieve this type of stress for his/her child.

       * Mom and Dad must learn that they cannot talk a child like Charlie out of his feelings.  This is how he/she really feels.

      ** Contact the principal or social worker at the school and ask for help.  Schools are fairly experienced with these issues.

      *** A week before do three practice runs with the same someone in the school to receive your child at the school.  Don’t wait until the first day of school to make this delicate transition.

      **** Give Charlie a transitional object.  This could be a key chain or locket with your picture in it.  Or something pocket-small that he/she can hold onto during scary times.

      ***** Teach and practice breathing techniques with your child. Turn it into a game where your child can learn to control his feelings of worry by slowing down his breathing.

      ****** On the weekend, put aside an hour of special time to spend solo with your Charlie!  Be consistent!  Do an activity that your child is interested in.

       Last but not least, prepare for the week on Sunday night.  Leave time to hang out with your child in a relaxed way before bedtime Sunday night.  After the family has been together all weekend, it is difficult for a young child to let go of that experience.  So, proceed slowly and deliberately, ensuring that your Charlie will get a good night’s sleep to start his/her school week.

Realizing one’s strengths

August 23, 2010
posted by Admin

           Like my partner, Jed, I too am on vacation.  Vacation offers us a lot of opportunities to slow down and think about our lives—what we have accomplished in our recent past and what we long for in our lives.  I actually have found myself feeling very grateful for what has happened in my life thus far…family, health and a thriving business practice.

         The thriving business thing….   I don’t really quite fully understand how it is where I have become a successful psychotherapist.  I realize that some of this is luck; you know meeting the right people at the right time, handling the referrals with the respect they deserve.  But when I really take a look at why I am successful I have to own the fact that I work hard at making people feeling comfortable.  I work hard at getting people to talk about what they feel is important.  I trust that the person sitting opposite me will come up with the answers that they need in life.

        Although at the time a patient may not realize it, they have many strengths from which to draw upon.  In my office, I want to point these strengths out to my patient and I want her to own and use these strengths on a daily basis.   As a matter of fact, you would be amazed at how much therapy is similar to high quality parenting.  To raise a child properly, a parent must select and draw out strengths in his/her child; the same is true for therapy.  I find over time, that a patient’s functioning self actually gets stronger and the person becomes naturally more resilient, if she notices her strengths and appreciates them.

Becoming a Warrior Through Forgiveness

August 8, 2010
posted by Admin

Becoming a Warrior Through Forgiveness

          If you practice forgiveness, you will experience a greater sense of peace and happiness.  You will find that you have far more energy to devote to your loved ones and to your activities.  However, just when it seems that you settled into a happy existence, life steps in and throws you a blow or setback!  All of a sudden forgiveness can feel inadequate to the task!

          After attending a recent forgiveness workshop, Barry felt his life and his relationships were much more rewarding.  He had been practicing the art of forgiveness daily.   That was until he learned that his two siblings cheated him out of a lot of money in the family business!

          Jill was popular in her neighborhood, her house was “the house” all the kids and families would gather round to play and hang-out!  She was naturally spontaneous to others and jumped at chances to help her friends.  Until one morning, when she woke up and while looking for a friend’s phone number in her husband’s cell phone, she discovered a few very personal texts from a co-worker, Jeanette.

          Sue felt at the peak of her life after achieving all the success she had ever dreamed of as a rising lawyer in a top firm.  She had been dragging and tired most days and chalked it up to working too hard!  Her husband urged her to go to the doctor.  Sue reluctantly went and a few days later, learned she had breast cancer.  She didn’t know what to do or who to turn to for help.

          Life situations can present some confusing challenges for those who practice forgiveness.  In each example, life was moving along smoothly until each person got hit with some overwhelming blast!  None of them are in a position to forgive anything or anyone!  They are shocked, hurt and helpless!  And yes, in the midst of all of this emotional drama they are angry!

          In his life crisis how will Barry tap into his anger to find the strength to move forward?   Like Barry, we all must marshal our anger to face the adversity squarely and fight it!  When our safety, well being or protecting what we love may be lost forever, we must get angry and use our anger to advocate for ourselves.

          We are hardwired with the capacity to forgive and to fight! There are times in life where either skill, forgive or fight is required to keep us safe, protected and thriving.  To fight when there is no threat to us is uselessly destructive.  If we forgive when we should be fighting, it is equally destructive!  Barry cannot attempt to forgive his siblings right now, he is being cheated out of money!  Jill must confront her husband for his obvious infidelity and Sue needs to marshal all of her resources for the fight of her life.  After they have assertively met their challenges, then they will be plenty of time for forgiveness.

          Nature has endowed us with the power to forgive and the power to fight.  The healthy person becomes practiced at both abilities.  The person who masters forgiveness knows how to be a warrior.

Become aware of your feelings!

August 8, 2010
posted by Admin

AWARENESS

         Have you ever had the experience of arguing with someone then you go and tie your shoe and tug on it too hard and it breaks?  Or you are shopping at Macy’s or Target and you find yourself arguing with a store clerk, later while walking through the parking lot, you fumble through your purse and can not find your car keys?

        Or how about these examples from family life?  As a frustrated mother, you yell at your daughter for not brushing her hair before she leaves for a play date…then a few minutes later she bangs her head as she jumps into the car.  As a frustrated father, you criticize your 12 year old son for not shooting the ball when he had a free shot in his tournament basketball game.  After the game, the twelve year old cuts his finger as he cuts his peanut butter and jelly sandwich in two halves.  In each of these examples are these two separate events coincidentally connected or are they completely unrelated?

        Anger as well as all of our feelings can be viewed as energy.  We are wired to turn our energy (read also “feelings”) inwards in the form of self-attack or push our energy out in the form of yelling at someone.  How we handle our energy (feelings, especially anger) can be the difference between developing a confident and fearless sense of self or a deficient and “I’m stupid” sense of self.

        What is the healthy way of dealing with our energy/feelings?  In one word, AWARENESS!  We rush through our day, not realizing the effect we have on others.   We do not slow down to take note of how we are doing.  We often lack the necessary awareness that it takes to feel more in control of our feelings and therefore ourselves.  Instead of reacting to a situation, we need to slow down enough to mentally register with ourselves how we are feeling in the moment.  As we become aware of what we feel from moment to moment, we will be more in control of what we say and do to others.  When we are more tuned into and aware of what we feel, we can help ourselves and our children by thinking through our reactions!