"The fear children have with unpredictable weather is common and can be a normal developmental stage as children begin to understand the world."
It’s that time in the Midwest for unpredictable weather!
Storms can be intense, so it’s not surprising that children can become frightened by them. Thunder, lightning and dark clouds can be scary. The fear children have with unpredictable weather is common and can be a normal developmental stage as children begin to understand the world. The fear of storms will change as the child ages: toddlers fear the pounding sound of thunder, preschoolers fear lightning, and, as a child grows older, their fears become more realistic, such as fearing severe weather may put them in danger.
What You Can Do
If the fear continues despite your attempts and/or it gets worse, consider seeking help from a child therapist.
Lori Cull-Deshmukh, LMSW, CPT
Too often, we wish we would have done something but didn’t make the time. Now is your chance to truly have a rewarding summer, full of purpose and accomplishment.
It’s that time of year again! The weather is warming up, school is winding down, and teens are excitedly awaiting their summer. For many teens, summer plans include sleeping in, going to the pool with friends, less responsibilities, and less stress. Although this can be a great time to relax and recuperate from an overwhelming school year, the decreased structure and social connection can bring a variety of unwanted feelings. Many teens face a real challenge in the summer, especially for those experiencing depression.
Too much free time: When a teen doesn’t have the external expectations and structure that school provides, they have all that time to THINK. For those with depressive symptoms, their negative thoughts lead to distorted beliefs that they “don’t have a purpose”. These thoughts can lead to feelings of guilt, frustration, shame, and anger. School provides teens a sense of purpose and opportunity to feel accomplished on a daily basis.
Isolation: With all this free time, teens are more likely to isolate from family and friends. They get in a habit of watching tv, being alone, and closing themselves off from social activities. It’s often easier, and safer, in their minds to be alone. Although the school setting can create conflict and stress with peers, it also provides them the opportunity to check their negative thoughts with reality and make healthy comparisons with their peers.
Lack of stimulation: We all know that the school year can be overstimulating for many teens, especially those with anxiety and depression. The benefit to these social engagements is that it allows their attention and focus to be distracted from their negative thoughts and feelings. They may not always enjoy being stimulated in a classroom but can create healthy stimulation for themselves in the summer.
Structure and social connection are extremely important to continue throughout the summer to combat this. There are many ways that teens can continue to implement what school provides in a healthy and desirable way.
If you need help creating structure or want to focus on combating those negative thoughts during your downtime, I encourage you to reach out. Summer is a great time to work through your anxiety or depression and learn new skills to support you now and in the next school year.
Allison Kidd, LSCSW, LMAC
You are your child’s first teacher and during the early years teaching occurs through play. Playtime interactions with parents give children opportunities to problem solve, process and manage difficult emotions, learn social skills like sharing and taking turns, and practice decision making. These are skills children learn best by practice and repetition in the presence of warm and engaged caregivers.
Play also offers parents the opportunity to fully engage with their child and build their relationship. A strong parent-child bond gives children the foundation on which to build healthy relationships with others including their siblings, friends, teachers and eventually other adults. Through playing with parents children learn to explore, laugh and express themselves. They learn the rules of what’s acceptable and what’s not. They learn how to function in their family and in their world.
Today’s families are busier than ever and often feel stressed and hurried. Meaningful connection can take place between parent and child in as little as five minutes of playtime together. Often when children are not feeling connected with their parent they begin to display attention-seeking behaviors in order to regain their parent’s attention. These behaviors could be tantrums, throwing or breaking a toy or hitting a sibling. A few minutes of play time with a child can be a way to “hit the reset button” by allowing a parent and child to connect in a positive way. This is often all it takes to shift a child’s behavior towards more positive interactions. Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) focuses on using this play time intentionally to promote skill development, enhance relationships and reduce problematic behaviors. This is accomplished by the therapist live coaching the parent-child dyad while playing and using the PCIT skills.
PCIT requires that parents complete Special Play Time daily at home. Kids and parents both begin to count on this daily time of connection and fun. And this has lifelong benefits for both.
Julie Gettings, LSCSW
Resolve Counseling & Wellness
Prairie Village, KS
"comparison is an act of violence against the self."
For today’s post, I wanted to create a message that would speak to everyone, but the more I thought about it, I realized that’s exactly what society does. Too often, our culture projects one vision of what is beautiful, or valuable, or lovable. That is not real life. No one, unique individual should feel constrained by a specific message, or image, that they need to fit.
The journey to self-love, or to put it simply "to love yourself", is authentic and unique. Self-love means finding your own message and sending it back to society as a unique expression. So how do we create that unique message, and how do we send it out to society? I have four fundamental practices to share.
Be present with positive vibes.
Fuel your mind with positive thinking. Too often we let our minds fill up with unhealthy thoughts. We relive our regrets, compare ourselves to our peers, or daydream of a different life. These are unhelpful and negative habits. They do not add value to our lives, and they take away our precious time and energy. We could spend this time and energy providing positive vibes to ourselves and others. When we become present and mindful in these negative moments, we create an opportunity to manage and reverse our unhelpful thoughts.
ACTIVITY: Get some sticky note paper. Write the word “STOP!” and then below it write a gratitude statement. For example here's me going down a rabbit hole... “Omg. So and so is on another great vacation, what a great life they have and look at all those bikini photos…I could never look like and I never would be able to…”<STOP!> “Right now, I’m grateful for eyes that can appreciate beauty.” The point of this exercise is to first train your mind to recognize unhelpful thinking, and then to replace it with productive thinking. You’ll feel better in the moment and avoid a rabbit hole of negativity.
Know your core values.
Knowing your core values is key to living a life full of self-love. Values drive our behavior. If we embed our values in our daily lives, our behaviors become purposeful, meaningful and important to us. If we live without values, we risk letting others determine our meaning. Creating core values provides guidance and perspective you can apply to any area of your life. Determining your values is the first step to living a life of meaning and of self-love.
ACTIVITY: Brainstorm! Take a sheet of paper and write out as many core values as possible. Once you’ve written out your list, fine tune it. Is there a pattern? Is there one value that inspires other values? Which values are most important to you? Now put that list somewhere visible so that it serves as a reminder.
Fill your cup before you fill others.
Knowing is the first step, doing is the hardest. This is one of the hardest ones for me. Best intentions aside, life is busy! I get it. I'm a full-time working mom in school with an internship on top. However, if I don’t take care of myself, I cannot fulfill these numerous roles. That's why setting aside time for self-care is imperative to sustaining a purposeful life. If you don't fill your cup up, someone else will. You might not be satisfied by what they’re serving.
ACTIVITY: Plan a day (Yes, a full day!) of self-care. Self-care will have a different meaning for each of you, but let's brainstorm together. For example, my last selfc-are day was in December, I'm about due for a refresh. But that nap I took, back in December, has fueled me to this day. So plan your day. What are you going to do? Who is going to help you accomplish it? Put your day on paper and schedule it.
Connect and share your intentions.
Standing alone in your values and intentions takes strength and courage. Practice makes you stronger. Sharing your intentions with others as well as connecting with like-minded people provides reinforcements, and builds strength in your supporters. Share your goals and connect your support network to your journey of self-love.
ACTIVITY: How can you share your message with others? Perhaps a conversation topic at dinner? Your new status on Facebook? Commit to yourself and share your version of self-love to inspire others and strengthen your commitment.
Jessica Nickels, Counseling Intern
Looking at Your Marriage Through New Eyes
Marriage can be one of the most rewarding relationships in life. In this relationship, we can learn the most intimate details of our partner, and we have the opportunity to truly be known by the other. When couples start dating, everything is new and exciting. We work to learn about the other by asking questions, listening, and observing inquisitively. However, as time goes on and we think we "know" the other person so well that we start to fall into the trap of setting expectations and having assumptions about the other. When this happens, we run the risk of not listening to the other, not stepping out and trying new things, and losing touch as each partner continues to grow and change over the years.
We all have expectations of how a relationship or marriage should be or how a partner should act in the relationship. Many of these expectations build from the relationships we saw and experienced growing up. We saw the example of our parents or the parents or others and we experienced different relationships (parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.) that all guided our expectations of how people should treat one another in a close relationship. The problem comes when our expectations don't align with those of our partner. For example, if I have an expectation that men work outside the home and women work in the home, that might be fine if my partner shares that expectation, but not if she believes in having a career outside the home and sharing household duties. The problem worsens when these expectations are unspoken. When this happens, we keep the expectations internal and expect our partner to just "know." Then, when they behave outside of our expectation we can get angry or hurt, but again we keep it internal until it builds up and comes out in a fight. It is important to talk about how we were raised and our expectations in the relationship, realizing that this new relationship is co-created between the two partners and both will need to negotiate the new "rules" in the relationship.
Assumptions in a relationship are when you believe you know what your partner is going to do or say before you give them a chance to do so. This causes you and your partner to behave differently, either because you are trying to avoid conflict, or you are afraid of hurting your partner, or you just don't want to be let down again. While this might be an attempt to protect yourself in the relationship, it is actually making things worse. Assumptions are very powerful because they are easy to validate, you just have to see an example of your assumption working out as planned and you have confirmed its validity. However, this is likely not always the case. Where before you might have said something or done something and received a good response 30 percent of the time and a bad response 70 percent, you now have no chance of a positive or different response. You are actually limiting the possibilities in your relationship and denying the chance that you or your partner can change.
Remove the Filter
This can be an extremely difficult task, but try to remove some of these filters that you look at your partner and relationship through. It is like wearing sunglasses that are distorting your view and taking them off.
This week try to open your eyes to the possibilities in your relationship and don't accept the status quo. Try to react differently than you always do and engage your partner as you did when you first were dating. Look for new reactions rather that what you assume will happen and you might be suprised.
James McMillian, LCPC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
Prairie Village, KS
"IT is helpful for teens to hear from others that they have similar issues and this normalizes the challenges that they face, allowing them to not feel alone, feel more accepted with their peers, and feel a relief in being able to share about their struggles." - allison kidd
Let's start by answering the question I know you have: what is group therapy?
Group therapy is typically a psychoeducational group where skills are taught and then discussed and applied to each group members own life. Psychoeducational groups are where a clinician (therapist, counselor, social worker) brings together a group of individuals who have similar concerns and teaches them skills. This can include coping skills to help them manage difficult situations in a positive, healthy way. They can be social skills to learn about boundaries, communication, and practice them in a safe environment. Some groups focus specifically on anxiety, depression, grief and loss, or life transitions. The overall goal in group therapy is to help individuals better understand their self and have a deeper understanding of feelings, behaviors, and reactions.
Group therapy can be a very rewarding experience for those attending and participating. When teens engage, they practice giving and receiving support from peers. This can lead to hope, inspiration, encouragement, and validation. It also teaches empathy, which is important for this age group! Group therapy provides:
The key to group therapy is regular attendance and participation. In order to get the most from the experience, it’s important to contribute. When you share your thoughts and experiences, others may find this to be meaningful to them. In turn, helping others will help you too.
What’s the difference between group and individual therapy?
Please visit our website here to view a list of groups currently at Resolve.
Allison Kidd, LSCSW, LMAC
“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this! And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, No. This is what’s important.” -- Iain Thomas
Life is hard, and full of stress, and we often spend time focusing on events that everyone says are important and beat ourselves up for the little celebrations we forget. After falling into the trap last week with Cinco de Mayo and being bummed when I couldn’t make reservations at my favorite Mexican restaurant quickly enough, I began wondering, “Why are we not celebrating the things in life that bring us enjoyment?”
As busy as we are, we tend to celebrate things that we don’t necessarily need to be emotionally present to celebrate. You know what I mean: the 5th baby shower for the month, the 6th bachelorette party of the year, or the 7th year that you force yourself to go to the family reunion where your family simply fights the whole time and everyone sits miserably together.
Break this habit, and break it fast!! Our lives are so demanding, and we are pulled in this, that, or the other direction CONSTANTLY! So why are we allowing ourselves to be pulled in directions that we don’t want to be pulled?
I came across a quote this morning, and it hit home for me… “And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this! And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, No. This is what’s important.” — Iain Thomas
Life is an everlasting decision of what you will celebrate, and what you won’t celebrate, but why spend all of our time celebrating the things that don’t make our hearts happy, and force ourselves to “celebrate” the things that demand more importance than our own wants and needs? Don’t want to go to Vegas for the 5th time for a bachelor party? Don’t. Do what YOU want to do, and what makes your heart happy! If you’re not living your life for your own enjoyment, who’s enjoyment are you living for?
"We may be closest to hearing the call when we feel most alone or in trouble, for genius hides behind the wound and one of the greatest wounds in life is to not know who we are intended to be or what we are supposed to serve in life." - michael meade, the genius myth
I remember a time shortly after I had finished graduate school where I developed this feeling that was new to me. Being a goal-oriented and driven person, I had made a clear path into where I was going. I may not have known what my job description would be exactly, but I did know the type of career I wanted and the type of impact I wanted to have in the community and hopefully some day, the world.
My life had been a series of checklists that contained boxes to check off as they were accomplished. It went something like this:
As you can imagine there were lists within the lists, but some things remained the same. For a moment after crumbling up that list and before moving on to the next, I would feel a moment of relief; however, what I began to notice was that this feeling did not last more than a few minutes before I had the urge to move on to the next thing. I was never able to enjoy one milestone because I would already be looking for the next one.
That feeling I got as I had finished school is a feeling that many Millennials and people feel, in general, I believe: emptiness. What a confusing feeling. I had done everything I had set out to do and then some. I had done all the things I thought were going to make me feel happy, however, after I made it to the "final destination", I felt nothing. I felt like there was still something missing. I was supposed to be happy. This is what I had wanted, but I wasn't.
I wonder if as you are reading this, if you can relate to the feeling of emptiness. This feeling isn't necessarily the one associated with depression and isn't hopelessness. It's more along the lines of "Something is missing and I haven't a clue what it is." In my "checklist and check-off-the-boxes" world, this was maddening, and I wonder if it is it for you too.
It has taken years to find a solution, and I hope that this article will help you shorten that time for yourself to perhaps fill the whole of emptiness within your own self.
Emptiness comes from not be authentic to yourself.
We grow up following templates of what other people did or didn't do. Society tells you to get this product or new clothing line to be happy. Your parents may have told you what degree to pursue in college, that you had to go to college, and that you needed to get married, have kids, or stay single your whole life in order to be happy. You likely received templates from your peers and social groups, as well. Following the status quo and doing the sports, activities, groups, or taking the classes your friends were very likely could have shaped the template that you thought you needed to have in order to be happy.
What you can do now is take a good inner look at who you are. What do you really like doing? What are your hobbies? What are things in the media, news, or in your community that gets your blood boiling or gets you fired up? Who do you love and surround yourself with? Where are you going and what situations are you putting yourself in? We can't begin to change and develop into where we want to be without acknowledging or identifying where we are.
Right now, ask yourself "Who am I?". Make a list of everything that comes to mind.
If you're like me, you may struggle to write anything. This is where you start. If you can't identify who you are, try identifying first who you are not. Know that you aren't alone in identifying these traits of yourself.
Accepting yourself as you are is one of the key components to feeling whole.
Have you ever gone on a date with someone and while they were listing off their hobbies and beliefs, you started convincing yourself that you could like that too or that believing that wasn't so bad even if it went completely against your values? Or, maybe you have difficulty making everyday decisions or have a difficult time standing up for yourself/being assertive when communicating. Accepting yourself as you are, flaws and mistakes included, is something that many people never get to. Wanting to be someone different and morphing yourself into what others to be are both signs you may be codependent on the opinion of others. Want to learn more about codependency? Read Codependency: Sacrificing Yourself for Others.
Stop chasing happiness.
If you're like me, your childhood and teen years consisted of people asking you what you wanted to be when you grew up. You saw your parents, friends' parents, teachers, and coaches all strive to be happy, thus teaching you that this was something you needed to reach too. However, after working with hundreds of people who are also reaching for happiness, I have learned that it is not something to obtain. Happiness is like sadness: an emotion or state of being. It's not realistic to think that you are going to reach this state and stay there continuously. It is realistic, however, to want to be the best you can, live according to your values, and find people and passion who bring you fulfillment.
In order to stop feeling empty, we have to start looking at what is or isn't making us fulfilled, being honest about who we are and what we want, and to accept that this honesty may not look like what we thought or be what our parents or peers wanted.
If you are struggling with finding fulfillment, read Fulfillment Versus Achievement: A Longing for Meaning.
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
"building self-esteem and self-confidence in children comes from actual experience; not from being told how good they are." - Lori cull-deshmukh
Has communication with your child become difficult? Are you frustrated with your child’s responses or behaviors? Is your child in the age range of 6-12? If you answered yes to these questions, here is some insight and tips on this age group.
We must first give credit to the well-known psychologist, Jean Piaget, who, through his research, developed the four stages of cognitive development (Sensorimotor, 0-2 years, Preoperational, 2-7 years, Concrete Operational, 7-11 years, and Formal Operational, 11 years+.) The latter half of the preoperational stage, is known as the “intuitive” period. At this period, children appear to be affected by what they observe and hear and attempt to understand who they are, how others view them, and where they fit in.
This is the time when the parents/caregiver’s messages should be focused on feeling loved, feeling safe, feeling competent. These three areas set the foundation of attitudes and beliefs that children begin to hold about themselves and form the basis for self-esteem and self-confidence. With that said, building self-esteem and self-confidence in children comes from actual experience; not from being told how good they are. There is often a distortion between how children perceive themselves based on their parents’/caregiver’s praise and their reality.
One of the most important ways of communication with a child is with words and tone of voice. As adults, we can make a significant difference in effective communication with children by practicing and changing our own words.
Nicole Schwarz, with Imperfect Families, has great examples of how we as parents (communicators with children) can change words to be more effective with children in her article “Say This Not That: A Parent’s Guide”. See a sample from her website here.
As a parent and communicator with many children, I understand the difficulties learning new ways of communicating. We are exhausted after a long workday and our patience level is often low. However, if you compare the amount of time you practice restating how you communicate to less meltdowns, arguments, and frustrated children; hopefully, the realization of the way we shape our children with our words…will be worth the practice and confirmation of unconditional love, patience, and confidence.
I challenge you to identify a way you communicate with your child and practice a restatement for a month. This will ease you into the change and other restatements will come much easier. I recommend starting with a positive example. This makes the change fun and you can build on from there! Here is a simple one to get you started!
Instead of: “how was your day”
Try: “what was the best part of your day”
Lori Cull-Deshmukh, LMSW, CPT
Phone - 913-752-9518
E-Mail - email@example.com
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – John Steinbeck
Last month, I shared the basics of self-care: its importance, why we struggle with it, and simple techniques to begin implementing into everyday life. If you need a refresher, check it out here!
This month, let’s take a deeper look into the different components and categories of self- care.
Self-care can consist of physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, relationship, and professional self-care. However, self-care by nature is unique, personal, and distinct to you so some of these categories may not resonate with you or maybe you have others that aren’t listed. These six aspects of self-care are a great starting point to begin viewing your health holistically and ever-evolving.
To assess your current levels of self-care, I encourage you to fill out this worksheet.
Each of these six categories play an important role in your life. Our physical health impacts our mood, ability, and overall health, while our psychological state directly influences the amount of creativity, problem-solving, and information processing we can produce. Our emotional and spiritual wellbeing powers our confidence and centeredness with ourselves and others. Relationship or social self-care is crucial in determining our levels of connectedness with others, arguably the strongest desire in humans. Professional self-care has become more and more important as our work and personal lives become more intertwined and woven together as one and as standards are constantly rising to perform.
While your environment may change constantly throughout the day, one thing remains constant: you. You have the power and the choice to determine how your energy and time is allocated. Prioritize yourself equally among your family, friends, and work. Begin by creating your own self-care wheel with ways in which you fill your self-care bucket, one category at a time. Once you have a picture of what it looks like when you’re balanced, use the wheel to guide your self-care activities when one area may be lacking.
Self-care is a habit that we must practice into existence. As with any new skill, be patient and allow yourself some grace. And most importantly, remember that you’re worth taking care of yourself.