Archive for March, 2010

PostHeaderIcon What kids can do to stop self-mutilation

Kids/Teens inflict injury upon themselves for a variety of reasons. I often hear parents tell me that they have no idea why their teen is cutting themselves and are in disbelief that he/she is doing this to themself.

The reasons that a teen cuts themselves are as follows:
They cut in order to regain control because physical pain is much easier to control than emotional/mental pain.
Cutting reduces tension in their body and mind.
They cut in order to punish themselves as they most likely feel bad, sad, angry, ugly, fat, stupid, etc… (this is about the teen perceives themself not how others may actually perceive them).
To express anger or rape when words may be too painful for them to express.
To feel pain, as many teens will tell me that it is better to feel something than nothing. This makes them feel alive as many teens say that they feel “invisible” at home or at school.

What can teens do to help themselves stop cutting? First of all, self-mutilation is a very negative way of coping with life stressors and the first step for any kid/teen is to first acknowledge that they have a problem. Teens that cut are hurting on the inside and professional help is almost always needed in order to stop this behavior. Cutting is like any other addiction, it is very difficult to stop once you start doing it. Secondly, the teen with the help of a professional needs to realize that they are not a bad person because they cut. Cutting is a “bad behavior”, it does NOT mean that the teen is a bad person. Cutting is about finding a way to deal with your feelings, albeit a negative one. Thirdly, to deal with cutting behaviors, a teen must talk to someone about their feelings. Finding someone to trust in order to deal with your feelings is crucial to working through this addiction. With the help of a counselor, you and your therapist together can determine what triggers your cutting behavior. In other words, we have to identify what things to avoid that make you want to cut and address them.
Recognizing that hurting oneself is really a way for a teenager to self-soothe helps in the recovery process. A professional will help in developing more effective ways in calming you down as well as soothing yourself when you become upset. Lastly, it is very important to figure out what purpose cutting yourself serves you. In order to stop cutting, the act of injuring oneself must be replaced with a more effective way to handle feelings of unhappiness and anger.

Qualified professional help is almost always required in order to stop this addictive behavior. Find a therapist that understands this behavior and knows the steps in order to deal with this type of problem.

PostHeaderIcon Are you a bully??

Bullies are not necessarily just children. Adolescents and adults alike can also be bullies. Bullying behaviors can be detrimental to those around us, as bullying really does have long-term effects on children and on adults. Here are a few quick questions to consider in determining whether or not you are a bully. Of course, no one ever wants to think that they are a bully, but answer the following questions to see.

1.) Do you like to tease or taunt those around you?
2.) Do you pick on animals or kids/adults that are smaller than you or that you have power over?
3.) If you do tease people, do you enjoy seeing them upset?
4.) Do you tend to blame others for things that seem to go wrong in your life?
5.) Do you get angry alot and stay angry for long periods of time?
6.) Do you get jealous or mad when those around you succeed at something?
7.) Do you laugh and think it is funny when people around you make mistakes?
8.) Do you like to destroy other people’s possessions?
9.) If you play a game do you have to win?
10.)If you lose at something, do you worry about what others will think of you?
11.) Do you want others to think that you are toughest or best at everything?
12. Do you take revenge on people that hurt you?

If you answered yes to one or two of these questions, then you may be on your way to becoming a bully. If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, then you probably are already a bully and need to find a way to change the way you are acting. Bullies can deal with their feelings and work through these behaviors. Remember, no one likes a bully really and most people go out of their way to avoid them at all costs. If you need help in changing your behavior, there are alot of people out there that can help you and are available to help you change if you want to!!

Adapted from Bullies are a Pain in the Brain, copyright 1997 by Trevor Romain.

PostHeaderIcon Language skill development in children

A common question asked of parents when their children are little is, “when should my child by speaking where I can understand him?” Parents are often concerned when their child does not seem to be at the same developmental level as other children and are unsure of what they should be able to do at what age. Here are some hard and fast rules that can be used as a guide for a child’s speech/language development. As always, if you believe your child’s development is delayed or you have a concern, consult your child’s pediatrician. A referral may be needed for speech/language therapy to help with development.

At the age of 12 months a child can normally:
Make cooing sounds
Respond to the word “no” and mimic your sounds
Say 10-50 words
Follow simple commands such as “show me” or “give me”

At the age of 24 months a child normally can:
Say 50-300 words
Identify parts of their body
Follow 1-2 step commands
Say a 3-word sentence
Follow commands that include prepositions

At the age of 36 months a child can usually:
Say 300-500 words
Use pronouns and prepositions
Understand negatives
Understand prepositions, adjectives, and pronouns
Answer questions logically when a parent asks them

At the age of 48 months a child can usually:
Speak in multiple sentences with each sentence clearly connected and in order

If their is concern that your child is delayed in their language development, then speech/language therapy may be needed in order to help with expressive and receptive language or articulation difficulties.

PostHeaderIcon How to be Bully-Free

Bullying at school is such a long standing problem, however schools and parents have become so much more proactive in the past several years to help solve this issue. If you as a parent think your child is being bullied, then ask your child. Most children will NOT tell parents this information because they are truly embarrassed or afraid to say anything. Adults should take the lead and ask their child about behaviors in their classroom not just about academics. If you suspect that your child is being bullied then here are very simple questions that you can ask your child.
“Do you have a bully in your classroom, a kid that is always mean to everyone?”
“Does the bully ever say anything to you?”
“How do you respond when the bully picks on you?”
“Who does the bully pick on most of the time?”
“How do you know that he/she is a bully?” “What exactly does he/she do that makes you think that?”

If your child tells you that they are being bullied, then by all means believe them. Ask for the details of what is happening and write them down so you have the correct information.
Without a doubt, the very last thing that a parent should do is confront the bully or the bully’s parents. This will not help your child and will most likely make things worse for your child. Also, do not blame your child for what has happened, bullying is never the victim’s fault and they did nothing to cause this.
What should be done is to contact your child’s teacher and request a meeting privately with him/her. Bring the written information with you and ask for your child’s teacher’s input about the bullying problem. Find out what the teacher plans on doing about the bullying problem in order to put a stop to it. Help your child develop assertiveness skills in order to be more bully resistant. As a parent, make a real effort to spend time with your child and encourage him/her to talk about how they feel and to develop their social skills. Confident children with good social skills are much less likely to be bullied than kids who are not assertive and struggle socially. Remember, as parents you are your child’s primary teacher.

Excerpt from The Bully Free Classroom, by Allan L. Beane, Ph.D.