A boy on his tablet.

In today's digital age, the internet plays a significant role in our daily lives. While it provides a wealth of information and opportunities for learning, it also poses risks, especially for young adolescents. As modern parenting continues to evolve, it is crucial for parents to navigate conversations about internet safety and age-appropriate content with their children. In this blog post, we will explore strategies for addressing this important issue and empowering parents to guide their children in the digital landscape.

Understanding the Digital Landscape and Its Impact on Adolescents

The digital world is an ever-changing environment filled with both opportunities and challenges. Adolescents, in particular, find themselves at the intersection of curiosity. The vast expanse of the internet at their fingertips, which is not without its pitfalls. The exposure to inappropriate content can range from mildly offensive to deeply disturbing. It can potentially affect their psychological development and shape their understanding of complex issues. This can happen before they are emotionally mature enough to process them. This landscape is not static. New apps, games, and social platforms emerge, often designed to capture and hold the attention of young users for as long as possible. This can lead to an excessive amount of time spent online, further increasing the risk of encountering harmful content.

Understanding this dynamic is vital for parents who aim to protect their children from these dangers. It's not just about the content but also about understanding how and why certain content appeals to adolescents. This comprehension allows parents to have more meaningful conversations with their children about their digital habits, the content they consume, and the potential impact on their well-being. In navigating this complex digital terrain, the goal is to equip young adolescents with the critical thinking skills needed to discern and make wise choices amidst a sea of endless digital possibilities.

Recognizing the Signs Your Child May Have Been Exposed to Inappropriate Content

A young girl on her laptop.

Being aware of behavioral changes in your child can be a key indicator that they may have stumbled upon inappropriate content on the internet. These signs can manifest in various ways, such as an increased level of secrecy surrounding their online activities. For instance, they might quickly switch tabs or hide their screens when you approach. This can indicate they are viewing something they don't want you to see. Additionally, a sudden shift in mood or behavior could be a response to disturbing content they've encountered. An example might be them becoming more withdrawn or displaying unusual aggression or anxiety.

Another red flag could be an unexplained reluctance to participate in previously enjoyed activities. It may suggest their focus or interests have been negatively influenced by their online experiences. Observing these changes requires a nuanced approach, avoiding direct accusations which may close off communication lines. Instead, these observations should serve as a cue for parents to gently probe their child's online habits and feelings about their digital interactions. This method allows parents to gather insights into their child’s online world without causing them to retreat further into secrecy. Recognizing these signs is the first step in addressing potential exposure to harmful content and reinforcing a safe online environment for your child.

Initiating the Conversation: Tips for Modern Parents

Broaching the subject of internet safety and appropriate online content with your children doesn't have to be overwhelming. The key is to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding. Don't forget to recognize that the digital world is a big part of their lives. Begin by finding a comfortable setting that feels non-confrontational, perhaps during a casual family dinner or a car ride, which can make the discussion feel more natural and less like an interrogation. It's important to communicate your concerns without instilling fear or shame. Frame the discussion around their safety and well-being. Emphasize that your goal is to ensure they enjoy the internet's vast resources responsibly.

Encourage them to share their online experiences and any uncomfortable situations they might have encountered. This approach helps to normalize discussing internet usage openly. It reinforces that they can always turn to you for guidance without fear of retribution or harsh judgment. Use this opportunity to set mutual expectations about internet use. This should include discussing what types of content are not suitable and why. Highlight the importance of critical thinking and being cautious about the information they share or receive online. Make sure they understand that you're not trying to invade their privacy or limit their exploration but are interested in their safety and development. This conversation should be an ongoing dialogue, adapting as they grow and as the digital landscape changes.

Establishing Clear Internet Usage Guidelines

Internet safety and modern parenting in NY.

To maintain a balance between the benefits and potential risks of internet use, it is imperative for parents to implement and clearly communicate internet usage guidelines. Crafting rules about when and how long the internet can be used, as well as what types of content are off-limits, lays a foundation for healthy digital habits. This involves a collaborative effort where children have a say in setting these guidelines, making them more likely to adhere to the rules.

Additionally, explaining the rationale behind restrictions helps children understand the importance of these guidelines beyond mere rules. It fosters a sense of responsibility towards their online behavior.

It's also beneficial to designate tech-free zones or times within the home. This will encourage offline activities and interactions, promoting a well-rounded lifestyle. Regularly review these guidelines together, making adjustments as your child grows and as new challenges arise in the digital world. Through clear, consistent, and collaborative guidelines, parents can create a safer online experience that respects their child's independence while safeguarding them from potential digital dangers.

Educating Your Child About Internet Safety and Age-Appropriate Content

Empowering your child with the knowledge to navigate the internet safely is a crucial aspect of modern parenting. Begin by discussing the various types of content they may encounter online. Highlight the importance of discernment in what they view, share, and engage with. Explain the concept of digital footprints and the long-term implications of their online actions. Use real-world examples to illustrate how easily personal information can be shared and exploited if not careful. Encourage them to think critically about the sources of the information they find and to question the credibility of online content.

Introduce them to the idea of digital wellness, emphasizing the balance between online activities and real-life interactions. Provide them with strategies to deal with uncomfortable situations online, such as encountering inappropriate content or being approached by strangers. This should include knowing when and how to report such instances. It also includes the importance of discussing them with a trusted adult. By fostering an environment of learning and curiosity around internet safety, you help your child develop a healthy relationship with digital technology. This can ensure they become responsible and informed digital citizens.

Utilizing Parental Controls and Safe Browsing Tools

A young boy on the internet.

Leveraging parental controls and safe browsing tools offers an additional layer of protection for children navigating the internet. These tools provide a means to filter out harmful content, limit screen time, and monitor online behavior. It is done without infringing on a child’s sense of independence. Educating yourself on the various options available is key. There are browser settings that restrict access to adult content to apps that track the amount of time spent on social media platforms. Engaging with your child about why these tools are being implemented helps demystify their purpose. It presents them not as measures of control but as safeguards for their digital journey.

It’s also important to regularly update these tools to keep up with new threats and to adjust settings as your child grows older and their online needs change. Involve your child in this process to foster a sense of responsibility and awareness about their digital footprint. These proactive steps not only enhance your child's online safety but also teach them about the value of boundaries in the digital realm, setting the stage for responsible internet use as they mature.

Building Trust and Fostering Open Communication

Internet safety and modern parenting can co exist!

Building trust and fostering open communication with your child is foundational in navigating the digital age together. This relationship is strengthened not by fear, but through honest and empathetic dialogue about their online experiences. Encourage your child to share both their positive and negative encounters on the internet. Make sure they feel heard and supported rather than judged. Highlight that mistakes are part of learning, ensuring they understand they can come to you with any issue without fear of punishment.

Active listening plays a crucial role. When your child speaks, give them your full attention, acknowledging their feelings and offering guidance when sought. Discuss your own experiences and challenges with technology. Show them that navigating the digital world is a continuous learning process for everyone. Regularly engage in conversations about their digital interests, and together, explore new and safe online spaces that align with their passions. This ongoing dialogue reinforces that you are a reliable ally in their digital exploration, cementing a bond of trust that encourages open communication about their online life.

Parenting is a challenging journey on its own, but it can become even more difficult when the parent has ADHD. The constant struggle to stay organized, focused, and on top of responsibilities can take a toll on both the parent and their child. However, there is hope. EMDR therapy, a unique and effective form of therapy, has shown promising results in helping parents with ADHD better manage their symptoms and become more confident and capable in their role as a parent. In this blog post, we will explore the struggles of parenting with ADHD and how EMDR therapy can be a valuable tool in navigating this challenge.

Understanding ADHD in Parents

Parenting is a challenging journey that requires patience, focus, and organization. But what happens when the parent themselves has ADHD? Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. It is characterized by difficulties in maintaining attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. When a parent has ADHD, it can add an extra layer of complexity to the already demanding role of being a caregiver.

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Understanding ADHD in parents is crucial in order to navigate this unique challenge. For parents with ADHD, the struggle to stay organized and focused can make even the simplest tasks feel overwhelming. Time management becomes a constant battle, leading to feelings of frustration and guilt. The ability to juggle multiple responsibilities can become incredibly challenging, leaving parents feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.

Additionally, ADHD can also impact a parent's ability to provide structure and consistency for their child. The lack of organization and planning can lead to inconsistency in parenting styles, which can be confusing for the child and create additional challenges in their development.

It's important to recognize that ADHD is a real and valid condition that requires understanding and support. By acknowledging and addressing the specific challenges that parents with ADHD face, we can begin to develop strategies and interventions that can help alleviate some of the burdens they face. In the next section, we will explore the struggles of parenting with ADHD in more detail, shedding light on the daily obstacles that parents with ADHD must overcome.

Struggles of Parenting with ADHD

Parenting is already a challenging task, but when a parent has ADHD, it can become even more overwhelming. The daily struggles of managing ADHD symptoms while also trying to meet the needs of your child can take a toll on both the parent and the child.

One of the main struggles for parents with ADHD is the difficulty in staying organized and focused. Simple tasks that seem easy for others can feel insurmountable for someone with ADHD. Time management becomes a constant battle, and feelings of frustration and guilt can easily arise. Juggling multiple responsibilities can be incredibly challenging, leaving parents feeling on edge and not good enough.

ADHD can also affect a parent's ability to provide structure and consistency for their child. The lack of organization and planning can lead to inconsistency in parenting styles, which can be confusing and unsettling for the child. This can create additional challenges in their development and may cause the child to struggle with routine and expectations.

Furthermore, the impulsivity that often accompanies ADHD can also be a struggle for parents. Impulsive reactions and decision-making can lead to unintended consequences and can make it difficult to maintain a calm and controlled environment for the child.

Overall, parenting with ADHD is a daily battle. However, it's important to remember that you are not alone. There are strategies and interventions available to help parents with ADHD navigate these challenges and become more confident and capable caregivers. In the next sections, we will explore the benefits of EMDR therapy, how it works, and finding a therapist to guide you through this unique form of therapy.

Benefits of EMDR Therapy for Parents with ADHD

EMDR therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, has shown promising benefits for parents with ADHD. This unique form of therapy can help alleviate the struggles that come with parenting while managing ADHD symptoms. Here are some of the benefits of EMDR therapy for parents with ADHD:

1. Reduction of ADHD symptoms: EMDR therapy has been found to be effective in reducing the symptoms of ADHD, such as difficulties with attention, focus, and impulsivity. Through targeted eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation, EMDR therapy helps reprocess traumatic memories and negative beliefs that may contribute to ADHD symptoms.

2. Improved executive functioning: EMDR therapy can enhance executive functioning skills, such as organization, planning, and time management. By addressing underlying emotional issues and working through past traumas, parents can develop new coping strategies and improve their ability to stay organized and focused.

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3. Enhanced self-confidence: Many parents with ADHD struggle with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. EMDR therapy can help parents develop a more positive self-image and improve their self-confidence as a parent. By reprocessing negative experiences and beliefs, parents can gain a greater sense of their strengths and abilities.

4. Improved parent-child relationship: EMDR therapy can also benefit the parent-child relationship. By addressing and resolving emotional issues that may contribute to parenting challenges, parents can develop healthier and more secure attachments with their children. This can lead to improved communication, trust, and overall family dynamics.

5. Long-lasting results: EMDR therapy has been found to have long-lasting effects. Many parents report continued improvements in their ADHD symptoms and parenting abilities even after therapy has ended. This means that the benefits of EMDR therapy can extend beyond the therapy sessions and have a positive impact on parenting in the long term.

How EMDR Therapy Works

EMDR therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a unique and effective form of therapy that has shown promising results in helping parents with ADHD. But how exactly does EMDR therapy work?

EMDR therapy is based on the understanding that traumatic or distressing experiences can get stuck in our brains, causing negative beliefs and emotional distress. These unresolved experiences can contribute to ADHD symptoms and difficulties in parenting. EMDR therapy works by targeting and reprocessing these traumatic memories, allowing the brain to process them more healthily.

During an EMDR therapy session, the therapist will guide the parent through a series of eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation. This bilateral stimulation helps stimulate the brain's natural ability to heal and reprocess traumatic memories. As the parent follows the therapist's hand movements or listens to sounds alternating in each ear, the brain's attention is split, allowing the distressing memories to be processed more effectively.

As the parent reprocesses these traumatic memories, they can experience a reduction in ADHD symptoms and an improvement in executive functioning. Negative beliefs about themselves as parents can be challenged and replaced with more positive and empowering beliefs. This leads to improved self-confidence and a stronger parent-child relationship.

EMDR therapy is a collaborative process, with the therapist providing a safe and supportive environment for the parent to explore their experiences and emotions. Each session builds on the progress made in the previous session, allowing for a gradual healing process.

Finding a Therapist for EMDR Therapy

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Finding a qualified therapist who specializes in EMDR therapy can greatly benefit those managing ADHD symptoms and navigating the challenges of parenting. To find the right therapist for you, follow these tips:

1. Research online: Begin by searching online directories and therapist listings in your area. Look for therapists who specialize in EMDR therapy, have experience working with individuals with ADHD, and possess relevant credentials and experience. Read any reviews or testimonials from previous clients. The EMDR International Association website is a good start!

2. Seek recommendations: Reach out to your personal network for recommendations. Ask friends, family members, or support groups who have undergone EMDR therapy or know someone who has for their experiences. This can provide valuable insights and help you find a therapist who suits your needs.

3. Consult with professionals: Consider seeking recommendations from mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, who specialize in ADHD or trauma. They may be familiar with therapists who utilize EMDR therapy and can provide referrals.

4. Take advantage of consultation sessions: Many therapists offer free consultation sessions or phone calls to discuss their approach and answer any questions you may have. This can give you a better sense of the therapist and whether they are a good fit for you.

5. Trust your instincts: It is important to trust your instincts when choosing a therapist. Find someone you feel comfortable with and can build a strong therapeutic relationship with. Don't be afraid to ask questions and voice any concerns you may have during the consultation process.

Remember that finding the right therapist is a personal and individual process. Take your time, do your research, and trust that you will find the right therapist who can support you in managing your ADHD symptoms through EMDR therapy.

Other Resources and Coping Strategies for Parenting with ADHD

Parenting with ADHD can be a daily battle, but there are resources and coping strategies that can help alleviate some of the challenges and help you feel better connected with your family. Here are a few additional resources and strategies to consider:

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1. Support groups: Connecting with other parents who also have ADHD can provide a sense of community and understanding. Support groups can offer valuable advice, tips, and a safe space to share experiences and frustrations. Look for local support groups or online communities specifically for parents with ADHD.

2. Parenting classes or workshops: Many organizations offer parenting classes or workshops specifically tailored to parents with ADHD. These classes can provide valuable strategies and techniques for managing ADHD symptoms while still being an effective parent. Check with local community centers, mental health clinics, or online resources for upcoming classes or workshops.

3. Time management tools: Utilize tools and apps that can help with time management and organization. There are various apps available that can assist with setting reminders, creating schedules, and breaking tasks into manageable chunks. Experiment with different tools to find the ones that work best for you and your family.

4. Prioritize self-care: Taking care of yourself is essential when parenting with ADHD. Make time for self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy. Remember, when you prioritize your well-being, you are better able to show up for your child.

5. Seek professional help: In addition to EMDR therapy, consider other therapeutic interventions that may benefit parents with ADHD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication management can also be effective treatments for managing ADHD symptoms. Consult with a mental health professional who specializes in ADHD to explore the best treatment options for you.

Remember, managing ADHD as a parent is an ongoing journey. It's essential to be patient with yourself, practice self-compassion, and celebrate your successes along the way. With the right resources and coping strategies, you can navigate the challenges of parenting with ADHD and thrive in your role as a loving and capable caregiver.

As parents, we often see ourselves in our children - the good and the bad. It can be heartwarming to see our positive traits reflected in our little ones, but it can also be difficult and even painful to see our flaws mirrored in them. This phenomenon can be attributed to a variety of factors, including genetics and learned behavior. However, our children can also serve as mirrors for our unresolved issues and traumas. This is why therapy can be a valuable tool for both parents and children to work through their own struggles and create a healthier dynamic within the family.

The Importance of Identifying Negative Behaviors

Identifying negative behaviors in ourselves and our children is crucial for creating a healthy and positive family dynamic. When we can recognize these behaviors, we have the opportunity to address them and work toward change. Not only does this benefit our children, but it also allows us to grow as individuals and break free from harmful patterns.

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By identifying negative behaviors, we can prevent them from being passed down from generation to generation. This self-awareness gives us the power to stop the cycle and create a more nurturing environment for our children. It also allows us to model healthier behaviors, teaching our children important life skills.

Additionally, identifying negative behaviors helps us understand the underlying issues that may be contributing to these behaviors. It allows us to explore our own traumas and unresolved issues, so we can heal and move forward.

Overall, recognizing and addressing negative behaviors is a crucial step toward creating a loving and supportive family environment. It sets the foundation for personal growth, improved relationships, and a happier future for everyone involved.

Understanding Normal Childhood Development and Behavior Patterns

Understanding normal childhood development and behavior patterns is essential for parents to effectively navigate their child's growth and development. It helps us distinguish between behaviors that are part of a normal developmental process and those that may be a reflection of our own negative behavior patterns. By having this knowledge, parents can better respond to their child's needs and promote their overall well-being.

During childhood, children go through various stages of development, both physically and emotionally. These stages include milestones such as learning to walk, talk, and form relationships. Each child develops at their own pace, and it's important for parents to be aware of these variations.

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Understanding normal childhood behavior patterns allows us to differentiate between typical behavior and potential signs of distress or concern. For example, temper tantrums and mood swings are common in young children, but persistent aggression or withdrawal may indicate underlying issues that require further attention.

By familiarizing ourselves with normal childhood development and behavior patterns, we can better support our children in reaching their full potential. It also enables us to identify when additional support or intervention may be necessary. Through this understanding, we can create a nurturing environment that fosters growth, resilience, and emotional well-being for our children.

Recognizing Our Own Negative Behavior Patterns Reflected in Our Children

It can be a startling and eye-opening experience when we see our own negative behavior patterns reflected in our children. As parents, we often strive to be the best role models for our kids, but sometimes our own unresolved issues and traumas can unintentionally manifest in our behavior towards them. It's essential to recognize these patterns in order to break the cycle and create a healthier family dynamic.

When we see our negative behavior patterns in our children, it's important not to beat ourselves up or feel guilty. Instead, we should view it as an opportunity for growth and self-reflection. By acknowledging these patterns, we can begin to understand the underlying issues that may be contributing to them. This self-awareness allows us to address our own struggles and work towards healing and personal growth.

Recognizing our own negative behavior patterns in our children also provides an opportunity to model healthier behaviors. We can teach our kids important life skills such as emotional regulation, effective communication, and problem-solving. By being open and honest about our own challenges, we create a safe and supportive environment for our children to express themselves and navigate their own emotions.

Remember, it's never too late to make positive changes and break negative behavior cycles. By recognizing and addressing our own negative behavior patterns, we can create a loving and nurturing environment where our children can thrive and grow into resilient individuals.

Why Communicating Better is Easier Said Than Done

Effective communication is often easier said than done, especially within the family dynamic. Many factors contribute to the challenges we face when trying to communicate better with our children. One major factor is the emotional baggage and unresolved issues we carry from our past. These can hinder our ability to express ourselves openly and honestly, leading to miscommunication and misunderstandings.

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Additionally, communication styles and patterns can be deeply ingrained within us. We may have learned ineffective ways of expressing ourselves or coping with conflicts from our parents or previous relationships. Breaking these patterns and adopting new, healthier communication habits takes time and effort.

Furthermore, stress and daily pressures can take a toll on our communication skills. When we're overwhelmed, it's easy to fall into reactive behaviors rather than responding calmly and empathetically to our children.

But don't worry, improving communication is absolutely possible! It starts with self-awareness and recognizing our own communication challenges. By prioritizing active listening, open dialogue, and practicing effective conflict resolution skills, we can create an environment where communication flows more smoothly. Seeking support from therapists or family counselors can also be immensely helpful in improving communication within the family.

Remember, improving communication takes time and patience. Celebrate the small victories and keep working towards open and effective communication, knowing that your efforts will ultimately strengthen the bond with your children and create a harmonious family dynamic.

The Role of Self-Awareness and Accountability in Positive Parenting

Self-awareness and accountability play crucial roles in positive parenting. When we become aware of our own flaws and negative behavior patterns, we have the power to make positive changes and break the cycle. By taking responsibility for our actions and choices, we model accountability to our children, teaching them the importance of self-reflection and personal growth.

Self-awareness allows us to recognize when our emotions and unresolved issues are influencing our interactions with our children. It helps us pause, reflect, and respond rather than react impulsively. By being aware of our triggers and emotional baggage, we can better understand how they impact our parenting style and make conscious efforts to address them.

Accountability involves taking ownership of our mistakes and making amends when necessary. It teaches our children that everyone makes errors, but what matters is how we take responsibility and learn from them. By modeling accountability, we create a safe and supportive environment where our children feel comfortable acknowledging their own mistakes and growing from them.

In order to cultivate self-awareness and accountability, it's important to practice self-reflection, seek support from therapists or parenting classes, and regularly assess our own behavior and its impact on our children. Remember, positive parenting is a journey, and embracing self-awareness and accountability is a powerful step toward creating a loving and nurturing family dynamic.

Strategies for Breaking Negative Behavior Cycles

Breaking negative behavior cycles can be a challenging but worthwhile endeavor. Here are some strategies to help you on your journey:

1. Self-reflection: Take the time to reflect on your behavior and identify the negative patterns you want to break. Understand the triggers that lead to these behaviors and explore the underlying emotions and experiences that contribute to them.

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2. Seek support: Reach out to therapists, parenting classes, or support groups that can provide guidance and tools for breaking negative behavior cycles. Professional guidance can be immensely helpful in gaining new insights and strategies.

3. Set clear boundaries: Establish clear and consistent boundaries with your children. Clearly communicate expectations and consequences, and be firm yet loving in enforcing them. Consistency and clarity provide a sense of security for children and help break negative behavior cycles. Gentle or positive parenting does not mean no boundaries or consequences!

4. Practice positive discipline: Instead of resorting to punitive measures, focus on positive discipline techniques that promote learning and growth. Use praise and rewards to reinforce desired behaviors and provide guidance and redirection for negative behaviors.

5. Model healthy behavior: Be a role model for your children by exhibiting the behavior you want to see in them. Show empathy, effective communication, and problem-solving skills. Let them see you making mistakes and taking responsibility for them, emphasizing the importance of self-reflection and personal growth.

Remember, breaking negative behavior cycles takes time and patience. Be kind to yourself and your children throughout the process. Celebrate small victories, seek support when needed, and embrace the journey of creating a healthier and happier family dynamic.

With love,
Kristy Casper, LCSW

Have you heard the phrase “helicopter parent?” It describes a mother or father that ‘hovers’ around their child 24/7, overseeing every aspect of the child’s life to keep safe from every potential danger, pitfall and mishap. In theory this sounds great right? “If I am there to guide and direct every step I know my child will be okay.” However, this style of parenting is rarely realistic, or productive, as we cannot monitor their every move and in reality: life happens.

Adversity is a part of life. Those children who engage with adversity in their formative years learn how to handle it well and develop the ability to come up with strategies and solutions to overcome challenges. These are the kids that grow up to be resilient, getting right back up when life knocks them down a few pegs.

Here are some ways parents can raise resilient children:

Plant the Right Mindset

How your child sees the world, and their own potential in it, directly informs how they make decisions. Teach them a positive and empowering mindset from the beginning- a “growth mindset”. Teach them that mistakes and failures are opportunities to learn what does and does not work. Validate that losing a game, or doing poorly on a test really stinks and help them focus on steps they can take to improve. Above all your kids should know that it’s not about win or lose- what really matters is the commitment and effort they put into reaching their goal.

Allow Them to Come Up With Solutions on Their Own

A child will never be able to develop their own coping strategies if someone is there every second making sure they never become hurt or disappointed. If your child is coming to you for help ask probing questions to get them thinking about how they can fix the problem. For example, “is there another way you both can play with that toy?” Communicating your belief in your children’s ability to solve their own problems with help to increase their self-esteem and belief in their own abilities. 

Let Them Take Some Risks

All parents want to keep their kids safe, but there comes a point when you’ve got to let go a bit and let them learn HOW to be safe on their own. For instance, one day your child will need to get their driver’s license. You can help that older child be a safe driver by allowing their younger self to ride their bicycle around the neighborhood. This will teach them to pay attention, look both ways, etc.

Teach Them the Right Skills

Teach your child how to navigate anxiety-producing or uneasy situations. Rather than focusing on the problematic areas of those experiences, focus on how to ensure safety or cope with them.  I work with lots of anxious kids, who have anxious parents. What I find is often the children are reacting to their parents anxieties. For example, a child who is concerned about bullying had a parent who was combing their hair and picking out their clothes in 8thgrade- because the parent was worried if the child did these tasks alone they would be bullied. This child then felt very insecure about their ability to make their own choices, keep themselves safe and how their peers perceived them. A better approach for that parent would be to teach them how to do their hair independently, encourage the child to be confident in whatever they choose to wear, praise the child on their best traits (humor, intelligence, kindness) and to discuss with their child how to handle a bully- if and when- a situation occurs.

Ensure Healthy Attachment

Children with secure attachment to their primary caregivers feel a sense of support and resilience. When a child is securely attached to their parents this serves a few functions: shapes mindset about the world and those in it (.e. the world is safe; I am loved), ensures they feel comfortable venturing on their own but equally as comfortable seeking support when needed, and these children also have greater ability to be open and honest with others about their feelings and needs. 

Seek Support When Needed

Resiliency isn’t something we are born with. It is a skill that must be instilled and molded over time. Planting these seeds now will allow for a child raised to face adversity, solve-problems, and do so with confidence and grace. Parenting is a challenge and it certainly does not come with a manual. If you need support in your parenting journey, give my office a call today and let’s schedule a time to talk.

Being a mom is hard, being a mom who strives to meet your child’s every need is taxing but well worth the effort. How do we balance meeting our children’s needs and taking care of ourselves? Being a good mom doesn’t mean neglecting yourself for the sake of your baby. What your child needs most is a happy mama who is able to be their calm and support. Self-care is really important for both you and your little one. What self-care looks like and what that means for each person is different. At Long Island EMDR we provide Postpartum Therapy for moms experiencing postpartum depression and/or anxiety. Here is a list of suggestions of what you can do for self-care so afterwards, you are more ready and able to meet the needs of your little one.

  1. Support.

Support is number one because it makes taking a needed break possible. Utilizing grandparents, your partner, other family members or close friends is important.  If you have supports around you, ask for help. I know we want to do it all but sometimes even someone coming by for you to cook without the baby on you or take a shower alone will help you to feel relaxed. I struggled the first few months with leaving my son for any stretch of time but if you are comfortable, a walk outside in the park or dinner out with your partner is a good way to relax and center yourself. As I said earlier just having someone come over so you can enjoy little things like cooking, showering, or reading alone may be the bit of relaxation you need.

Understandably, this is not always possible if you have a limited support network. The phrase “it takes a village” really is true so it is important that you work on building your supports.  Finding like-minded parents that you feel comfortable leaving your child/children with can be a great source of relief.

No matter whom you leave your child with make sure they know how you want your child taken care of when you’re away. Tell them your preferences for medications. Teach them your child’s hunger cues and ways you soothe your child when he/she becomes upset. Always leave an emergency contact list.

  1. Exercise.

If possible go to the gym when your spouse is still home (before work or after). If you’re like me and that’s not possible, join a gym where you can bring your baby. I go to Fit4mom, which has the added benefit of also being a second support network of like-minded moms (at least in my location).

  1. Take a relaxing bath.

If you can’t get anyone to supervise your little ones, bring them in with you. My child loves baths. So its usually relaxation time for us both.

  1. Read.

I really love reading and always feel accomplished after I finish a good book.

  1. Take a walk!

If it’s nice out put on that baby carrier and take your baby with you. Just being outdoors is relaxing. Michael and I go on walks often. He likes to look at nature and usually is lulled to sleep while we walk. Fresh air and a change of scenery can be nice, especially in the early months where you may feel like your stuck in the house.

  1. Meditate.

Whether you have 5 minutes or an hour, meditation is a great way to relax and center yourself. I love the app Insight Timer they have all sorts of meditations and they vary in time commitments.  I also love the “sleep” feature so you can drift off to sleep and the app turns off when the meditation is finished.

  1. Color.

Seriously. I know it sounds childish to some but there are an array of adult coloring books that really are quite relaxing to do.

  1. Gratitude Journal.

Did you know studies actually show you can train your brain to be more positive by writing down 3 positive things a day? The list should be specific, not “my husband, my child, work”, but more like ” my child is healthy”, “I’m able to breastfeed”, ” my husband is supporting me in returning (or not returning) to work”. Postpartum therapy can assist you in identifying what is going right if you are feeling so anxious or hopeless you cannot think of a single thing to be grateful for.

  1. Call a friend.

If you can’t get out and you have no one able to come to you, a phone call can be a lifeline. Call someone who is supportive and willing to listen. Catching up with a friend or relative can really brighten your day.

  1. Listen to music.

Even if it’s music on while you have a spare minute to vacuum the floor. Crank up some old jams and dance around yourself. I love to sing, my dancing skills are not so great (but I will still dance like a fool), and I find singing really helps to release anxiety.

Take care of yourself. On an airplane they always tell you to put your mask on first. You need to be calm and happy to help your child be calm and happy. You’re also modeling good coping strategies for your child. They learn more from what you do, then what you say.

If you need some more help with navigating postpartum symptoms and want to begin postpartum therapy, please reach out to our office.

Sending love and light,

Jamie Vollmoeller, LCSW

Returning to school may be challenging for parents and children alike. The pandemic is still not over and many children, teens and parents have concerns about staying safe once school starts. Moreover, we are not sure what to expect as far as new rules in the school and changes to their normal school routines.   Though we cannot predict what will happen, it will be helpful to keep your child’s a home routine as normal as possible. Children may find it difficult to adjust back to their school routines after such a long break – parents may too. Here are some helpful tips to address their concerns and any possible behavioral issues:  

1. Be calm and comforting while communicating with your child.

It’s important to monitor your tone and facial expression. More than anything your child will be able to tell how your feel about these changes from these cues. If you seem worried it will only serve to heighten their anxiety. Make sure your facial expression and body positioning is relaxed; get down on your child’s level and offer comforting words.

2. Listen and Validate Feelings.

This change is going to cause a range of emotions for kids some may be excited, happy, sad, scared, angry, worried or frustrated. Whatever the emotion, let your child now you understand where they are coming from. Take into account what they may be feeling and try to see the situation from their point of view. “ I understand you are frustrated you cannot sit next to your friends at lunch that is hard and I know you have been excited to go back to school so you can spend more time with them.”   “I know understand you are worried about seeing your friends again when you have not seen them in so long. I know the first day will be hard but you are such a (funny/sweet/caring) boy/girl and I know you will reconnect with them again. Everyone has been away from their friends for a while and is probably feeling just like you.”

3. Set Limits and Boundaries.

Help your child to see the bigger picture and help them to find solutions to their concerns. Let them know that it’s okay to have big feelings but some behaviors are just not acceptable. Be sure to remain, calm, clear and assertive in limit setting.   “I know it is difficult to wake up so early again when you are so used to sleeping in late. We have to go back to school though. What can we do to make your morning routine easier for you?”   “I know you are used to staying on Xbox late but we have to get back into school routine. The Xbox needs to go off by 8 o ‘clock.”   “I see that you are upset but it is not okay to hit/bite/yell”  

What to Look Out For:

Covid-19 was a big adjustment for our kids and going back to school will be another big adjustment. Some children have a harder time expressing or stating their feelings and may display some of the following behaviors:     All of the above are normal reactions to stress. If your child is experiencing these symptoms it may be helpful to contact your school social worker, guidance counselor or find a local therapist to help them learn to cope with their stessors.   To get an idea of what changes may take place to your child’s school routine please check out CDC guidelines at the following link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html
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