This is a time of year when there are so many changes for kids, teens, and parents alike. Returning to school brings new and old friends, activities, learning, expectations, and grades. All of that is the added stress of social media, being a kid, family member, and parent.
Okay, writing that started to bring some flashbacks of school…phew! This post is hopefully going to provide ideas, tips, and general direction for kids, teens, and parents to help navigate the coming school year.
Going into the school year is a big transition time and everyone involved in this process needs to be on the same page. The ideas to prepare and plan for our life skills, time commitments, education priorities, mental health, and play – giving them chances to be a kid. These things become complicated when expectations are kept silent or one-sided.
Taking time to break each of the above areas down will help parents and caregivers have an idea of how to help their kids and teens.
Life skills examples include planning, organizing, cleaning, communication, boundaries, and responsibility.
Time commitment examples include sitting down together and going through all 168 hours you and your child have in one week. Consider all 24 hours in a day and really help them look at how their time is spent. Look for opportunities to have transition time between school, activities, and homework.
Education priority examples include everyone setting realistic expectations for performance.
Openly discussing learning ability, factors that can impact that, and really having an open min on both sides to accepting limits as well as pushing limits when appropriate.
Mental health is so crucial for kids and teens. The amount of stress, environmental factors, friends, bullies, and social media are all so much to handle. Managing times for breaks; discussing anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression, and self-harm; support systems; and normalizing conversations and acceptance of these things can open so much in having your kid or teen come to you.
Play examples include time with friends, rest, fun activities, creativity, and using imagination.
With all the things to consider going into a new school year remember that everyone at home is going to have some high emotions during the first 6-8 weeks and then things hopefully will even out.
Keep in mind that home can become a safe place for kids and teens when they know, and trust parents are on their side with their best interests in mind. Invest the time now to be able to create a successful school year for everyone.
Types of Behavioral Therapy for Mental Health
Here at psychological preventative health, we utilize evidence-based treatments to help you on your wellness journey.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) are examples of those treatment modalities.
This guide will help break down the main elements of CBT, DBT, and ACT.
“People’s reactions always make sense once we know what they’re thinking” – Judith Beck
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a treatment modality commonly used by mental health professionals. The premise behind CBT is the idea that psychological problems, or difficulty in mental wellness, might occur when a person has unhelpful ways of thinking that can lead to unhelpful patterns of behavior. The thoughts that occur may be in our awareness or they can occur subconsciously.
The goal of CBT is to identify negative core beliefs and automatic thoughts that interfere with our ability to function and find peace in everyday life and work towards a more positive self-image.
CBT is an ongoing process, so it does not end when the therapy session is complete. During the session, the client and therapist will work together to come up with ideas to help bring greater insight into the thoughts and feelings of the client throughout the week.
The client might journal, take notes about feelings and thoughts, read relevant books, and practice exercises that have been taught during the therapy session.
Cognitive Therapy has been found to be very effective in treating depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, PTSD, and other mental illness.
“Emotions are not good, bad, right, or wrong. The ﬁrst step to changing our relationship to feelings is to be curious about them and the messages they send to us.” – Lane Pederson
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is another treatment modality used in psychotherapy in individual or group settings. In DBT, therapists help clients gain greater flexibility in their thinking through skills training.
This is accomplished by synthesizing opposites – and finding a middle ground. So, rather than looking at things as black and white, we can find the grey in between.
Other skills addressed in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), include acceptance, distress tolerance, and interpersonal skills.
The client and therapist plan together ideas and activities that will work towards their goals.
This might look like completing a diary card daily and reviewing and practicing skills learned.
This also allows the client and therapist to process skills used during the following session.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is helpful for anyone who becomes overwhelmed by intense feelings and emotions and also might engage in unwanted behaviors such as self-harming behavior, rage, anger, impulsive behavior, substance abuse, suicidality, or experiencing a lot of conflict in interpersonal relationships.
This technique is helpful for those suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and especially those diagnosed with personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder.
“What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.’’ – Carl Jung
Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT – and pronounced as the word act) is yet another psychotherapy modality utilized at Psychological Preventative Health.
Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) works to allow people to move with all aspects of life, both the wonderful and the most difficult parts, by utilizing skills in mindfulness, goal orientation, and acceptance. In this treatment, acceptance is used to counteract avoidance.
While utilizing ACT, the therapist and client work together to identify personal values, goals, and practice re-directing your thoughts and behaviors to move towards your ideal.
A critical element to ACT is the application of skills discussed and practiced in between sessions. This may include journaling, worksheets, and other exercises to enhance the therapeutic learning experience.
ACT has been found to be effective in working with individuals who suffer from addiction, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and other behaviors that increase difficulty in life.
Our caring clinicians at Psychological Preventative Health can help provide thoughtful and gentle guidance through the difficulties of life.
If you have any questions regarding your mental health, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would be more than happy to help you get the care, treatment, resources, and respect that you need and deserve. We look forward to serving you!
Men are not as complicated as we think they are. And for that matter, neither are women. We
are just different, and while we understand we are different, no one ever really shows us how
much different we truly are. At PPH Therapy we teach you how to understand those unique
differences and how to take advantage of both individuals inherent differences instead of
making our lives more difficult. Biology shows that we are social creatures, we want
companionship and to be with other people. Often, we hear people say “I am fine to be alone, and that’s fine, however “I want to be alone forever”, is rarely stated.
The age-old complaint of men using women for sex and women using men for money is
notorious and can be infuriating to both sides. However, it goes back to biology as well. Men
and women are programmed to meet biological needs. For men, sex ensures their genetics are
passed down. For women, money, aka security ensures that they can take care of their children without having to worry about the necessities such as food, and physical protection.
While we can expand on this more and we will, for now here are a few tips for the ladies, and as a side note, men would do well to take note of this too as this helps you, (you just don’t realize it yet).
Little Effort- Ladies, effort is the key word here. A man values what he has to work
for; if he puts little effort into the relationship startup, he will put little effort into you in
the long run. This includes initiation which can be explained in the following paragraph.
Initiation- You initiate all the texts, calls, and contact. If a man really wants you he
will yearn for contact both emotionally and physically. if you do all the work- well, lets
just say he will take it, but in a nutshell, he doesn’t have to work for it, so it is not valued
as much. Now some will say initiation is good for women too, and it is-minimally. We are
always looking for that fine line, just don’t be on the wrong side of that line ladies.
Last-minute Invites- This one should be self-explanatory, but I will explain it anyway.
Generally, if you are after a hook-up only… well, then this is your green light. Go ahead,
and accept that late notice invitation. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule,
but statistically speaking… the odds are not in your favor, so gamble away!
Xbox or Porngraphy- These pretty little habits are not so pretty although people want
to believe that they are harmless. “I am not cheating on my wife, all I want to do is relax
a little”, is what I hear over and over. However they are a means of instant gratification
that promotes deterioration of relationships by reducing effort. (See bullet point #1) We
can get into this at another time. But for the sake of these tips right now… Xbox and
Porn (red flags)= no bueno!
Goal Achievement- He obtained the goal too quickly. Men gain self-esteem through
accomplishing tasks, goals, and objectives. What happens to effort when a goal is
obtained? Well, if you haven’t figured it out then read on…
Goal Attainment = Effort Decline = Effort Decline in YOUR Relationship = NOT GOOD
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t personally believe that men are trying to be
manipulative or vindictive, but I do believe that GENERALLY, and I capitalize that as
there are always exceptions to the rules, GENERALLY men don’t think that far ahead!
They are just trying to meet a need and once met, (unless they have put a signification
amount of TIME and ENERGY into the relationship), they go after the next need, or
want…aka another woman to put it bluntly.
Needs- Never meet his needs before yours are being met. Men value what they have
to work for, and effort declines once they have obtained that. Once again I feel like I
may be sounding like a broken record here, but this is important so I repeat…Men value
what they work for NOT what is given to them. They will take what is given to them for
sure but this lowers their self -esteem as well as yours in the process. I can explain this
later, but men increase in personal self-esteem by giving and women by receiving and
yet we tend to sway in the opposite direction these days.
Value Yourself- If you do not, no one will. What does this look like for you?
While these tips are not exhaustive by any means, we become better by not biting off
too much. Practice these, and when your good at implementing, come back for more!
Your Child Can Feel Better With These Simple Tips!
1. Set up a Routine: Make sure backpack, clothes & homework are ready the night before. Have a family meal time or family fun time each day. Let your child know the plans for the next day.
2. Stay Calm: Even if your child is begging you, crying & melting down. Your child can sense your anxiety. Put on your “Game Face” and remain positive. Focus on your child’s strengths instead of their weaknesses. Help them follow through with their obligations whether it is with a playdate, school, church, or home.
3. Do NOT avoid your child’s fears: Help your child face their fears. Avoiding the “thing” that causes your child’s fear will only make it worse! Letting your child stay home from school because they don’t want to be away from you will only make it harder the next time. There may be tears, tantrums & sad faces but know that with time then that will go away. The best way to conquer anxiety is to face anxiety!
4. Be Prepared: Making sure that your child’s homework is done, tests are studied for & materials ready will help ease their anxiety. Many times, students are not wanting to come to school because their homework is not done & missing more school will only increase that worry adding upon their stress. Whatever your child’s fear is, you can help them feel more prepared and confident.
5. Teach your child strategies: Children can be taught strategies at a young age to help deal with their anxiety. They will need your help & guidance on how to use these strategies because children won’t know how or when to use them on their own. Strategies include deep breathing, fidget or sensory toys, positive self-talk, & relaxation or mindfulness methods.
6. Cut down Screen Time: Studies show that our screen time increases anxiety and depression and decreases social skills. Your child should have a maximum of 45-60 min of screen time a day (This does not include screen time for school or homework)! Use technology as a tool rather than a distraction. Encourage them to go outside and play.
7. Good Sleep: Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep at night. A good bedtime for elementary students is 8:30. This allows them to at least get 10-12 hours of sleep. Make sure they are not on electronics at least an hour before bedtime. This will help their brains relax and regulate their melatonin levels, which helps them sleep better.
8. Healthy Diet: Our food is our fuel. Studies show junk food increases anxiety and depression. If our children aren’t eating healthy, they won’t be able to function. They will be more restless, anxious & emotional. Healthy food will improve anxiety and depression.
Any Mindfulness technique could be helpful. You can use these or google different ones
Techniques: Any Mindfulness technique could be helpful. You can use these or google different ones
● The Color Game-Find everything in the room that’s a certain color, then go to the next color
● Come back to the 5 senses- example: 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste
● Sing your thoughts to the tune of Happy Birthday or say them in a funny voice (Like Minnie Mouse)
● Lock up your worries in a worry box in your mind, then set a worry time to open up the box and talk about your child’s worries
● Take deep breaths with your child In for 4 seconds, out for 4 seconds
● Tell your safety brain “That’s a lie” then tell your brain true information (ex: List the people at school who care about your child if your child is afraid of school)
● Give your child a stress ball or sensory toy to play with while they talk to you
● Imagine every detail of your happy place or memory like you were actually there
● Workbook to do with your child- What to do When you Worry too Much by Dawn Huebner or What to do When you don’t want to be apart by Kristen Lavallee, What to do When Fear Interferes, What to do when your temper flares, What to do When Mistakes Make you Quake, What to do when you Grumble too Much, What to do when Bad Habits Take Hold, etc (There is a whole series of these books for different emotions you can search What to do workbooks for kids)
● The Illustrated Happiness Trap by Russ Harris-Easy read for adults with some techniques to help the worries
● You can Google “Books to help kids with anxiety (or whatever emotion)” and a long list of helpful books come up
● Mind yeti- guided mindfulness for kids https://mindyeti.com/power-portal
● Yogamedo youtube channel- Yoga for kids helps them learn some skills to de-stress
● www.cosmickids.com or Cosmic Kids.com on youtube
● Worry Wise Kids-Info on anxiety for parents www.worrywisekids.org
● NAMI- Info on anxiety https://www.nami.org/
● Google “mindfulness techniques for kids” online
● Youtube relaxing music with fish on youtube- Have your child focus on the fish when upset
● Relaxio (White noise app)
● Stop, Breathe, and Think (guided mindfulness app based on your mood)
● Headspace (General guided mindfulness/meditation app)
● Mind yeti app (Goes along with the website mentioned above)
● Mindful Family
● Insight Timer
● Smiling mind
● My Strength- free classes, tips, and trackers for mental and physical well-being
● SafeUT- 24/7 therapists you can call, text, or chat with- you can also send in tips of someone who may need help
● SAFE-FAM- Free Mobile Response and Stabilization services for any child or caregiver ○ 1(833) SAFE-FAM (723-3326)- They come into your home and work with your child for free ● Call 2-1-1 for more resources for children and adults
Mindfulness is a simple, yet powerful way to relieve stress and help with emotional regulation, and there are so many benefits for children and adults. You can practice mindfulness regularly (even if you are feeling good) to enhance the wellbeing of your family. Here are ten simple tricks you can try with your family (You can think of some of your own too!):
1. Take a listening walk Go someplace (backyard, nature, the mall, etc) and walk together in silence, listening for sounds you typically overlook: leaves rustling, a pine cone falling from a tree, your own steady breath. To make it more fun, you can turn paper cups into amplifiers by cutting a hole in the sides of two cups and putting them over your ears.
2. Take a 30 second vacation Imagine every detail of where you want to go on vacation (can also be your happy place or a happy memory) as if you were actually there in your mind. What can you see, taste, touch, and smell while you are there? You can do this as long as you would like.
3. Savor some silence During a period of enforced quiet, go through your regular routine, and see what you hear, see, smell, and feel in the silence.
4. Try a sitting meditation A formal meditation can be difficult for kids (and adults!). But it is very effective— The most common form of meditation is to focus on the breath. You can have your family focus on their breathing, or find a guided meditation on an app or website (Stop, Breathe, and Think, Mind Yeti, Insight Timer, Headspace, Smiling Mind, and Mindful Family are a few.)
5. Play the Color Game While you are walking outside or sitting inside, you can play the color game with your children. Find everything in the area that is a certain color, then you can go to the next color. You can also play this game with patterns (stripes, polka dots, lines, etc) numbers, letters, and shapes. This game helps calm the mind and bring us back to the present.
6. Really taste what you’re eating Be in the present moment with the taste, textures, and temperature of foods that you are eating. Focus on how it feels to chew or sip in your mouth. Ask everyone to spend the first few minutes of certain meals silently noticing the food in their mouth. If your mind wanders to something else, simply bring it back to the present moment.
7. Listen Carefully/Spend Time Together Without distractions like TV, social media, phones, or electronics, be fully engaged as you listen to each other and spend time with each other. Notice how you feel about each other when you do this.
8. Notice your body A “body scan” is a great way to notice how your body feels in the present moment. Sit or lie with your kids and, starting with the toes, silently or out loud bring awareness to one body part, until you’ve worked your way up to the top of your head. If you want, you can have each person describe how a specific body part feels (ex: “I’m focused on my stomach, and it feels rumbly,” or “I’m focused on my left toes, and they feel tingly.”)
1. Respect and validate your child’s feelings. Anxiety is real and not pleasant.
2. Teach your child deep, slow breathing. This is an easy and very portable skill for self-soothing and calming.
3. Listen to your child and ask, “Tell me what you are thinking.” This will help to reveal scary thoughts and scenes that build up in your child’s mind.
4. Rather than swooping to reassure, ask your child, “How likely is (that thing you are afraid of) to happen?” You’ll be teaching them to challenge their anxious thinking.
5. Prompt your child with “Tell me some things you can do to handle this situation,” and help them to brainstorm rather than just giving them solutions. This will help them feel empowered.
6. Give up the idea of “mental health days,”“skip days,”“sleep with mom nights,” or other ways of avoiding feared situations. This just makes the anxiety stick more firmly and lead to further avoidance.
7. Encourage your child’s attempts to be brave, no matter how small they may seem to you. Use labeled praise such as “I’m so proud of you for sleeping in your own bed last night.”
8. Work with your child to outline small steps leading to a bigger goal.
9. Create opportunities for your child to practice being brave and coping, and then high-five their efforts.
10. Recognize when you are anxious and say aloud what you can do to calm down and solve the situation. You’ll be modeling coping for your child, but be mindful and don’t overshare your anxiety!
11. Use a feelings chart to talk about how you feel, and model it for your children, “I feel sad because I burnt dinner.”