Smoothing Out The Transition

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Staring back to school can be difficult for children. Often the start of a new school year brings anxiety, stress, or a decrease in confidence. Each school year brings about a variety of changes: a new teacher, new schedule, new subjects, new kids in the classroom, maybe even a new school. Think about how you might feel if you were facing this many changes! Do you remember how you felt when you started a new job or moved to a new city? It can be scary and overwhelming.

Your child is likely facing many mixed emotions and may feel unable to handle them. All of these changes and emotions can make for a difficult time after school. If you are like me, the goal is for your children to come home from school, sit down, and start homework before doing anything fun. Get the worst part out of the way right? But is that what you want to do after coming home from a long, hard day at work? Especially if you just started new job? Most likely you need a few minutes to yourself, or some time to sit down and relax.

What if you created a “relax bag” for your child? Maybe even one for yourself. When you get home from school (or work) take a few minutes, even just 5 is helpful, 10-20 is more ideal and just relax! Here’s an idea for what you might put in a child’s relax bag (also check out the image below!):

Calm down bottle
Journal
Stress ball
Pillow
Music
Bubbles
Puzzle

And don’t forget a snack!

relax box

5 Self-Care Tips For A More Peaceful Existence

Is your life like a never-ending Bangles song?  One Manic Monday after another with no end in sight?  Then this post is for you.  Stress and poor work/home life balance can cause a lot more harm than just a tension headache, sore muscles, or relationship problems. High stress is linked to heart trouble, stroke, and even early death.  YIKES!!

By adding these simple self-care strategies to your daily routine you can lower your stress levels and even possibly prolong your life!

De-Stress


Self-Care Tip #1:  Create distinct boundaries

So many of us continue to answer email, respond to phone calls, and otherwise work for free when we are off the clock. STOP doing this! You are only hurting yourself.  Instead, create good boundaries between your work time and your home life.  Don’t answer those emails or phone calls after hours.  Clearly articulate that you can be reached during work hours only.  Free yourself from any feelings of guilt because you are helping yourself as well as others learn how to treat and respect you.

Self-Care Tip #2:  Exercise

Okay, I personally suck at this one.  I’m just not into running, getting hot, or sweaty even though I know it’s good for me.  I have learned, however, that yoga and Pilates really help me de-stress and unwind.  The deep breathing combined with somewhat less strenuous movement are more relaxing.  Plus the bonus is increasing your flexibility and core strength.  I strongly encourage some type of exercise at least 3 times a week.  Go for a walk in your neighborhood, ride a bike, go to the gym, do yoga at home using YouTube.  There are even great apps that will help you work up to exercising more often or doing short workouts when you can squeeze them into a busy schedule.  I like couch to 5K, seven minute workout, and simply Yoga FREE. (Insert links)

Self-Care Tip #3:  Make time to do something you enjoy

This sounds like a no brainer, but a lot of the time we don’t make FUN a priority.  It gets bumped off the list as frivolous to make room for other things that feel more important.  I can promise you, fun is extremely important!  We need this in order to refresh, enjoy life, and remind ourselves why we do all the other stuff.  Make time to do the things you love; go shopping, build something, plant a garden, arrange flowers, go out with friends, attend book club, play video games, cook/bake, watch a movie or tv show, etc.  I know a lot of people probably want to add drinking alcohol to this list.  I don’t blame you at all, but be wary of using alcohol as a self-care method.  It should not be used as one.  Since alcohol is a depressant it will often times leave you feeling worse in the long run than better, healthy, or productive.  I’m not saying you can’t drink of course, just don’t use drinking as self-care.  I personally enjoy watching movies/tv shows, gardening, and shopping.  I also love the spa!!! Hello massage and facials

Self-Care Tip #4: Meditate

It might sound hokey to some, but I believe this can be the key to creating peace in your life.  You can call it whatever you want if Meditation sounds too weird, but crave out 5 to 10 minutes a few times a day to just be.  Use an app like Calm to get started.  This will help you clear your mind, reset yourself, and after consistent use you will definitely feel much more relaxed and at peace with things.  Another benefit of using the Calm app is that you will get access to other helpful tools like sleep stories, sleep sounds, and body scan.  Some of the app is free and others are locked and require you to purchase the app, but either way you still great benefits.  I encourage you to try meditation three times a day; once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening (before bed).  If that is too difficult, try once a day and build up from there.

Self-Care Tip #5: Eat well

Again, I’m not so great at this one but I know the better you eat the better you feel.  I just can’t seem to say no to sweets!  UGH!  Therefore, I go with the moderation approach.  I can have a little bit in small amounts.  I try to be diligent about balancing meals; protein, veggies, fruits, carbs, etc.  About a year ago I severely cut back on my caffeine intake by cutting out most soda.  I drink Green Tea, Sprite, and other low caffeine options plus tons of water.  I can’t really say enough about drinking LOTS of water other than it makes a HUGE difference.  My skin is clearer, I have less headaches, I have more energy, and I sleep better.  All because I drink more water.  I encourage you all to really try it.  I also would recommend you eat something high in protein before doing anything mentally or physically strenuous.  Big tasks require more fuel.  Treat your body well and it will repay you later.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed these tips/tricks.  Where just one of these could start to change your life; they are much more effective when done together.  Make a few changes, add these to your routine, and enjoy your new peaceful existence.

 

-Amelia Worthen LPC-Intern supervised by Meredith Ivey LPC-S, RPT-S
compassioncounseling.us
817-723-1210

Reward Your Child In Their Language

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It’s a good idea to offer your children rewards. Not just for doing their chores or for good grades, but randomly offering a reward when you catch them doing something you appreciate. As parents we give consequences when we catch children misbehaving, yet often fail to offer rewards in the same way. These rewards do not need to be big, just a little thing that reciprocates the good behavior. Offering rewards in this way not only encourages that behavior, but builds the connection between you and your children.

When offering rewards you are able to learn more about your child by paying attention to the rewards they choose. Take note of the rewards your child picks and learn from this so you can continue to show them love in the way they feel it best. This is a sample rewards chart based on Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. This chart is intended for younger children. You may want to make adjustments based on your child’s gender and age. If your children are old enough to participate have them help you make this chart.

5 love languages

Sample Rewards For Each Love Language:

Touch:

10 minutes of extra cuddle time before bed

5 min foot rub
Words of Affirmation:

Written compliment

Mom or Dad will share at the dinner table why they are proud of you.
Gifts:

Mom or Dad will pick up a surprise for you from the store

Pick a prize from the prize box
Acts of Service:

Help with your chore

Mom will make your bed for you
Quality Time:

15 min of one on one time

go on a walk with mom or dad

 

Here is a printable chart you could use to let your children pick their reward.

Good behavior reward

Some alternitives might be:

Touch: If you have a young girl, you might paint her nails or toes.

Acts of Service: Help your child with a fun project they have been wanting to do. Clean out your child’s car if they drive.

Quality Time: Just sit and watch your child play, be there while he does what he enjoys.

Gifts: This does not have to be expensive, it IS the thought that counts. Buy them their favorite meal for diner, or just a fun new pair of socks.

Words of Affirmation: Send a note in their lunch box, or buy a card and leave it on their bed.

Be creative and have fun finding new ways to show your children how much you love them!

Meredith Akin-Ivey, LPC-S, RPT-S

Overuse of Technology

As I read the articles listed below, I am reminded of times when I use the iPAD and TV with my children in order to get a moment to myself. I have also seen the “too much technology monster” come out in my three year old. Although I am in no way going to eliminate the use of technology in my house, I do feel it is important to limit the time spent using it. A tablet or television cannot even come close to the importance of authentic conversations, imaginary play, and outdoor exercise. Questions to think about when considering if there’s an overuse of technology in your household:

Is it possible that too much technology use is causing brain damage?

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201402/gray-matters-too-much-screen-time-damages-the-brain

Is it possible that the sedentary use of technology is linked to childhood obesity?

http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=379222&resultClick=3&version=meter+at+null&module=meterLinks&pgtype=article&contentId=&mediaId=&referrer=&priority=true&action=click&contentCollection=meter-links-click

 

 

 

Ashley Harmonson, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Meredith Akin-Ivey, LPC-S

Better In-Law Relationships

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We all need some tips and reminders that could help us journey through our in law relationships. I know I do! Here are some ideas:

 

Show Gratitude

   -Through your words

Think of something in advance that you appreciate about them and remember to tell them when you meet with them or even when you call to make plans.

For example: “I love that potato casserole you make, do you think you could bring that for Thanksgiving dinner?” “I love that you give the children your undivided attention when they talk to you. That’s one thing that makes you an extra special grandparent.“

Think of some of this in advance (be prepared) and then also look for things you appreciate when you are with them as well.

-“Gratitude without words translates into rejection.” -Stephen Nutt, Pastor of Creekwood Church Mansfield, TX.

People do not know our thoughts unless we tell them.

   -Through your actions

Showing them honor by some form of action shows gratitude.

Find something they need done and care for them.

 

Sincerity

Be sincere. Don’t use compliments you do not mean. You want them to be sincere with you so set the example you want. Criticism

  • Don’t be brutally honest. There will be imperfect things about them, just as with you, but we don’t need to always discuss those, especially during holidays when things may already be tense. There may be times something needs to be said, but analyze your motives and be sure they are pure and not just critical.

 

Inclusion

  • Include them in as much of the planning as you can. Include them especially when planning a birthday/other event for their son or daughter. They may have their own ideas of how they would like to celebrate that event. If so there could be an additional event if needed or they could be included in your planning. But remember the three questions (from the “In laws and Holidays” blog) so you don’t offer a choice you have decided you cannot live with.

 

Flexibility

  • You want to prepare yourself to do things at times to fit with your in-law’s family traditions or ideas. At times they may also know your spouse’s favorites better than you would on something. You may be surprised how much you enjoy some of their ideas once you try them.

 

Grace

  • Give them the same grace you should give yourself. Things do not have to be perfect.

 

Remember to have fun and relax when with your in-laws.

 

Weaver, LPC

Play Therapy

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“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation.” – Plato

 

 

Joining a child’s imaginary world is fascinating. One night when putting my two year old to bed, she introduced me to Trexta. My daughter told me that Trexta, who was right above her bed, wouldn’t come down and go to sleep. Knowing that I am far from the pretending world, she said to me “Do you see her Mommy?” She quickly described an elephant riding a giraffe. Although I wanted to explain that the sheer weight of an elephant would quickly crush a giraffe, I just continued to let her describe her new friend. After saying good night, she continued to speak to Trexta for another 5 to ten minutes on the baby monitor.

That night my husband and I talked about how strange it was that she had an imaginary friend. Little did we know, Trexta would be a frequent visitor, play mate, and friend in need of support. Trexta was often comforted for being afraid of monsters, taught how to do things that were difficult, scolded for not cleaning up toys, and a source of many other things (Trexta is a very naughty elephant). But with more close observation, I noticed that Trexta becomes scared of things that my three year old is scared of and comforted and taught ways to feel better.

Why do I tell this story about my sweet little one? Because unfortunately, I don’t always see that elephant riding a giraffe on my child’s ceiling. Just like I can’t always understand, why sometimes she is defiant, has an outburst, and cries at the top of her lungs. Children live in a world that often feels very much out of their control. They have thoughts and feelings about their ever changing circumstances and do not always know how to express them.

 

play

 

Fortunately, there is an outlet for those feelings. Through play therapy a child can express their feelings without being evaluated or judged. They are free to feel and speak through toys. They control the play and through that control, they become their own counselor, teacher, and parent. Through Child-centered Play Therapy a child can teach herself what to do when afraid and how to be comforted after making a mistake. She teaches herself it’s ok to get angry and then apologize. When a child is hurting, they often act out that hurt and do not always have the words to work through it, but they do know how to play.

As my own child is approaching four, I notice that Trexta is not as common of an occurrence. But when my daughter feels out of control, angry, lonely, and scared I know that we may have a visit from our very own elephant riding a giraffe. I do know that she is a welcomed visitor. I hope that you will let your child have a visit to their own imaginary world and give Compassion Counseling the privilege of being a part of it. Below is a website that contains FAQ about play therapy and links to more information.

http://www.compassioncounseling.us/content/play-therapy

 

Ashley Harmonson, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Meredith Ivey, LPC-

In-Laws & Holidays

 

Now that summer vacations are over and kids are back in school, fall is beginning, we start to think, ”When is the next vacation?” OK, so maybe that’s just me. Then I have the thought that Holidays will be just around the corner before we know it.

Well, this often brings us to the in-law thoughts. Maybe that’s just me too. There are no perfect in-laws. If you have some, please tell me where you got them, I did not think they existed! Don’t take me wrong though, my in-laws have some very redeeming qualities, but things just not always go perfect. But in reality we are really not all so perfect ourselves, are we? OK, so seriously, here are the questions that run through my head:

Where will the gatherings be? Will there be arguments over where it will be held? Who will get to have the holiday date specifically and who will be pushed to another day? Then my mind races on to “Will things go well?” Will I get things perfect this time?

And all the tenseness of the holidays is quickly back in my memory. We can push the thoughts away, but we will have to go back to holiday planning eventually. So how can we handle all the questions that build up in our minds?

 

in-laws-holidays

 

Quick thoughts to ease the tension:

-Things do not have to be perfect.

-You do not have to have it all figured out today.

-You do not have to be the one to make all the decisions.

-Not all occasions have to be traditional/ formal every year?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the unknown. That is most likely my biggest anxiety producer for me. So, I like to think of possible situations and some contingency plans in advance. Let’s face it guys; I want a back-up plan. So, some things I want to be sure of. Maybe you do too.

Three questions to have solidified before making any call extended family to discuss holidays.

  1. What I would really like. (optimally)
  2. What I won’t agree to (absolutely)
  3. What I could live with (negotiable)

Some ideas that could change the face of holidays:

  • Try to negotiate on who to spend each holiday with, i.e., Thanksgiving with your parents, Christmas with your in laws.
  • Remember too that if you children you may want to have a special time just with your children to create some special memories and traditions of your own. Parents remember what that is like and hopefully will want to support that for you as well.

Now on to some suggestions for a better relationship with in laws:

  • Think of something in advance that you appreciate about them and remember to tell them when you meet with them or even when you call to make plans.

For example, “I love that potato casserole you make, do you think you could bring that for Thanksgiving dinner?” “I love that you give the children your undivided attention when they talk to you. That’s one thing that makes you an extra special grandparent. “

Think of some of this in advance (be prepared) and then also look for things you appreciate when you are with them as well.

  • Be sincere. Don’t use complements you do not mean. You want them to be sincere with you so set the example you want.
  • Don’t be brutally honest. There will be imperfect things about them, just as with you, but we don’t need to always discuss those, especially at holidays when things may already be tense.
  • Include them in as much of the planning as you can. But remember the three questions so you don’t offer a choice you have decided you cannot live with.
  • Give them the same grace you should give yourself. Things do not have to be perfect.
  • Remember to have fun.

 

-Weaver, LPC

 

 

For literature about relationships with in-laws, our counselor recommends books from this list.