Archive for June, 2010

PostHeaderIcon How can we help inattentive children focus?

Whether a child suffers from ADHD, Inattentive Type or simply struggles with sustaining attention at school, these children will appear very disorganized, uninterested in class, spacey, and absent minded. Parents and teachers alike are often frustrated with inattentive children, because they appear to be completely detached and uninterested in school. These children are often very intelligent, however teachers and parents often feel that they are simply “lazy” and do not want to do their work. Fortunately, there are a number of very ineffective interventions that can help the inattentive child and it is usually the case that these children are simply overlooked in the classroom because they are not disruptive in the classroom setting.

Here are a list of interventions that can help for inattention whether at school or at home:
Make the child is aware when all assignments are due at school
Establish eye contact with the child when speaking to them whether at home or school
Redirect when the child becomes disengaged
Give clear; concise directions
Make sure the child sits in front when in class; too many distractions in the back of the classroom
Teachers should make sure that a classroom schedule of when assignments are due is conveyed to the child’s parents
Should your child how to effectively take notes in class to help with study habits
Have a reward system in place for when assignments and homework are done effectively
Make sure the child loses privileges when assignments are not completed
Keep all homework assignments in one folder and make sure their backpack is organized and not in disarray
Teachers and parents should check to make sure assignments are written down and they should have a homework folder

Make sure everyone works together on keeping the inattentive child focused. If everyone, including the child does not do their part, then the child is being set up to fail. Children that are inattentive should always have a regular routine, know what is expected of them and receive feedback when they have succeeded and when they have failed. Above all else, minimize distractions for the inattentive child! We do not watch television or listen to music while we are completing homework and a quiet place to complete homework should be designated. The end result will be a child who is much happier and will be more successful in the classroom setting as well as listen better at home.

PostHeaderIcon How does play therapy help children

Let’s first start by defining what play therapy is exactly. Play therapy is a projective technique in which your child’s conflicts are revealed through his/her play and in their interaction with his/her therapist. Many parents feel that when their child comes in and they tell them at the end of their session that they “played games” with their therapist that the session was just fun and games. Nothing could be further from the truth. Play therapy truly is the mode of therapy that is typically used for children under the age of 10-11 years old due to children that age being less verbal in therapy. As kids mature, their ability to think about how and why they think a particular way inproves and “talk therapy” becomes the mode of treatment for older children. It is important to understand that guided play in a therapy session is completely different than the play you observe your child in at home or with their friends.
Play therapists work under the basic premise that the symbols your child uses in his/her play are actually symbolic of how they interact with others, their fears, desires, and what motivates them in particular ways. In play therapy, a child expresses themselves in various ways and comes to understand why they act how they do and begin to have awareness. It is through this awareness or understanding of how they act/play that they are able to begin to learn about themselves. The therapist is a tool for the child in getting the child to become more aware of themselves and when a child feels understood he/she is more likely to trust that they are able to get control over their feelings/emotions.
When a child expresses themselves through play, a natural emotional response or catharsis occurs. This response or catharsis is what uncovers emotions. A good example of this is when the therapist has the child use role play in re-enacting a fight he/she had with their mother or father. The child usually feels relief or anger from the role play, but there is an awareness and the therapist helps them work through their feelings as well as helping them understand their part (awareness) in what occurred.

PostHeaderIcon What exactly is Separation Anxiety Disorder?

When children are scared of new places or people, this is completely normal. However, if a child continues to have intense fears that something is going to happen to themselves or to their loved ones and they can not participate in normal childhood activities, this is usually an indication that there is a problem. Separation anxiety disorder affects approximately 4% of children between the ages of six and twelve years old. A child’s temperament or personality is a factor that contributes to separation anxiety and children that are in a close-knit family, are extremely shy, children that are very passive, and kids who have parents that are very insecure as parents are alll contributing factors to Separation Anxiety Disorder.

Normal separation anxiety occurs between eight months and one year old and may occur later between eighteeen months and two years. In some children, it may never be experienced. Remember, that some degree of separation anxiety is normal and is a sign that your child has formed a health attachment to you.
Separation anxiety has a variety of physical and behavioral signs and to qualify for a diagnosis of Separation Anxiety Disorder, your child’s doctor or therapist will look for at least three or more of the following symptoms that occur to your child before the age of eighteen years. Also, the symptoms must be present for more than four weeks and interfere with your child’s social and/or academic functioning.

The symptoms are:
Worry about losing you or harm coming to you
Excessive distress when separated from you
Worry that some terrible event such as being kidnapped will come between you and your child
Reluctance to go anywhere even outside to play or be with his/her friends
Reluctance to go to sleep at night, especially alone
Repeated physical complaints, such as stomach ache or headaches
Ongoing distress about being alone at home or outside of the home, especially without you

Symptoms of separation anxiety may begin to occur as a result of a scary experience or something that your child has heard about that is scary to them. In order for a child to resolve these feelings of separation anxiety it is of utmost importance that they are able to develop a feeling of safety in the world, trust in themselves and their parents, and understand that their parents are coming back even though they are apart from them for a period of time. Treatment of separation anxiety disorder usually includes psychological intervention that includes individual and/or family counseling. Techniques in therapy usually include making the child feel safe and systematically having the child spend time away from their parents in increasing increments with incentives for time spent alone in activities.

PostHeaderIcon How do kids know if they are stressed?

Children, whether they are young children, older kids, or teenagers, all worry about a number of things. Children when they are younger often worry about going to bed alone and being in the dark or of going to school and leaving their parents. As children get older, they worry more about being popular, being rejected by other kids, death, leaving home when they are done with school, finding a job, or what is going on in the world. Worries and fears can be very frightening and confusing for children, however the good part is that by noticing and understanding your fears and worries, you can learn to handle them.

Fears or worries may be big or small, but some common fears for children/teens are as follows: nightmares, bugs, violence, meeting new people, talking in front of other kids, getting laughed at, strangers, storms, doctors or dentists, failing grades, being liked by others, loud noises, or something bad happening to them.
There are a number of different anxiety disorders, however the main symptoms that they seem to have in common that can let a child know that they are probably having anxiety are:

You feel fidgety or restless
You get easily tired and do not seem to have alot of energy
You can not seem to focus or concentrate in school
You are grumpy or irritable for really no reason
Your heart is racing or beating fast for no reason
Your muscles are tight; tense and you hurt all over and can not seem to relax
You feel lightheaded, dizzy, sweaty alot, or have dry mouth
You seem to have alot of stomach pain or headaches for no reason
Lastly, you feel like you are going crazy or are about to die if you can not “escape” immediately.

The best advice that I can give grown-ups and kids that have anxiety is to find support immediately. A good counselor can help you work through these anxieties and can give examples to kids on how to handle situations with extreme anxiety. In extreme cases, medications to help control anxiety may be needed.