Raising children in today’s digital age requires parents to consider the risks and benefits that come with screen time for children in its many forms. Parents today have to contend with TV’s, smartphones, tablets, and computers when they consider how much time to allow their children to use screens. It can be overwhelming and hard to know what balance is appropriate when screens are now used regularly in the classroom, for homework, and as a leisure activity. As children get older and enter the teen years, parents must also consider personal smartphones and social media and include that as part of their considerations of healthy screen time balance. It is not realistic to do away with screens completely, but one important consideration is how screens affect the development of children and each different stage of growth. Different stages require different needs and parents’ understanding of what research tells us can help inform what limits to set and how to go about limit setting and seeking balance with their own children. Research shows that screen time has steadily increased in children since the 90’s but since the pandemic started in 2020, screen use for children jumped 52%.Pre-pandemic usage was reported at 2.7 hours, and usage increased to over 4 hours a day during the pandemic.The greatest increase was shown in children ages 12-18, most likely because they have their own devices and more personal freedom.Children’s engagement in physical activity during the pandemic decreased by 32% during the pandemic.Unhealthy increase in screen time during the pandemic now requires a new promotion of healthy habits, balancing screentime with physical activity, and person-to-person engagement.
Impact on child development
Most of the current research on the impact of screen time has been done on children over the age of 5. Very few studies have been conducted on toddler and preschool age children and this is an area that needs more focused research. The existing literature points to problems in cognitive development, social emotional regulation skills, behavioral problems, and language development delays. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than 1 hour a day of screen time for children between the ages of 2 and 5, and no screen time for babies and toddlers other than interactive face time with loved ones. Theories about why screens have such an impact on young children discuss the displacement of other important developmental tasks when using screens too much. Children at this stage need to have unstructured play time to foster creativity and social interaction skills. They also learn self regulation skills from their caregivers, but when they are given a screen as a coping tool for difficult emotions, they don’t learn to regulate their own emotions and this is an important skill that is developed at this stage of life. The development of language skills is also a large part of this stage and research shows a correlation with higher screen time and delayed language development. This is another skill that children learn best from their caregivers. Watching educational content can be helpful in developing language skills, and expanding vocabulary, but co-viewing with caregivers who can interact with them while watching greatly increases the benefits of the educational content. Excessive screen time for young children can also have a negative impact on their sleep, which is also really important for healthy development of the brain and body. When young children do not get adequate sleep, the effects are real and lasting, so this is not one to ignore. Excessive screen time for young children often leads to lower overall physical activity. Young children have a high developmental need to move their bodies. The current recommendations of the CDC for physical activity for young children under the age of 5 is to be physically active often throughout the day. Many sources advise at least 3 hours a day cumulative physical activity. When children are viewing screens too much, physical activity and outdoor play can be limited and result in health and well being consequences.
Children who are older than 5 have different developmental tasks and are impacted differently by screen time and use. Research points to an increase in behavioral disorders, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and obesity with excessive use of screens. Children and teens use screens in school for learning as well as with their own devices or smartphones. There is also a distinction between active screen time and passive screen time. More research is needed in this area, but current understanding points to less of an impact when actively using screens and devices for learning, rather than passively watching videos or shows. Content matters here as well. Children and teens are often exposed to inappropriate sexual or violent content and that is also linked with higher incidence of behavioral or mental disorders. Displacement of sleep and physical activity are a big issue at this developmental stage as well so the American Academy of Pediatrics does not have a specific screen time recommendation for this age, but instead recommends balancing screen time with adequate sleep, regular physical activity of at least an hour a day, and non screen time activities.
What can parents do?
Parents can be intentional about how they choose to interact with screens. Watching high-quality shows like Daniel tiger’s neighborhood, or Sesame Street and talking to kids about what they are learning can be a useful learning tool for literacy building and social-emotional regulation with children over the age of 2. For babies and toddlers under the age of 2, research has shown that there is really no benefit to screens for learning, so watching baby Einstein or other “educational videos” is not helpful, and in fact is harmful to their brain development. These young children cannot take in information from screens the same way that older children can, and kids ages 2-5 benefit most when they are interacting with their caregivers while watching. Children older than 5 will often be viewing screens on their own and will need parents who set limits, are aware of content that their children are viewing and establish family rules that are enforced like no screens at meal time, screen free zones in the home, and times of day where screens are not used. One helpful rule to have is no screens in the bedroom. This allows parents to monitor use better, and takes away the temptation for children to use screens at night when they should be sleeping. A great resource for parents is commonsensemedia.org. This website allows parents to check the appropriateness of content of movies, books and other media for their children. It gives a parental rating, a kid rating, and a breakdown of what areas of concern a media source may present. Another really important piece of advice is to not be afraid of boredom. Allowing unstructured time for kids develops their creativity and allows their brains to have the quiet thinking time they need. This is a time when they can learn distress tolerance and discover creative interests.
Families can also build in non screen activities as part of their lifestyle. Sports, music, and regular outdoor play, like trips to the park, increases engagement in other activities and contributes to overall health. As kids get older, parents need to teach children about online safety and privacy. Kids are exposed to so many different games and apps on the internet and they need to learn the dangers of sharing private information in the same way we teach our children to be mindful of strangers in public. Parents are the greatest role models for every area of life for their kids and this is no exception. Parents can teach healthy boundaries by having healthy boundaries in their own lives. Showing interest in other activities, exercising regularly, and not keeping the TV on all day model good limit setting. Finally, use screens to build connections with family and friends. These are amazing tools that increase our ability to stay connected to friends and family. Using phones to facetime with far away family, calling friends, or keeping in touch using technology can increase feelings of connection with others and this is a good thing. We can incorporate screens into a healthy lifestyle and access more tools than ever before for learning, fun and connection. Screens and technology are not going away, so the best thing we can do is to create a healthy, balanced life for our children that includes physical activity, adequate sleep, creative interests, academic growth, and strong family and friend connections.
AACAP. (2022). Screen Time and Children. https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-And-Watching-TV-054.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2021). Media and Children. https://www.aap.org/en/patient-care/media-and-children/
Choe, D. E., Lawrence, A. C., & Cingel, D. P. (2022). The role of different screen media devices, child dysregulation, and parent screen media use in children’s self-regulation. Psychology of Popular Media. https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000412
Guerrero, M. D., Barnes, J. D., Chaput, J.-P., & Tremblay, M. S. (2019). Screen time and problem behaviors in children: exploring the mediating role of sleep duration. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 16(1), 105. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-019-0862-x
Kids’ Screen Time Rose 52% During the Pandemic, Study Says. (n.d.). Retrieved December 22, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20221114/kids-screen-time-rose-sharply-during-pandemic-study-says
Kim, S., Favotto, L., Halladay, J., Wang, L., Boyle, M. H., & Georgiades, K. (2020). Differential associations between passive and active forms of screen time and adolescent mood and anxiety disorders. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology, 55(11), 1469–1478. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-020-01833-9
Sukhpreet K Tamana, Victor Ezeugwu, Joyce Chikuma, Diana L Lefebvre, Meghan B Azad, Theo J Moraes, Padmaja Subbarao, Allan B Becker, Stuart E Turvey, Malcolm R Sears, Bruce D Dick, Valerie Carson, Carmen Rasmussen, CHILD study Investigators, Jacqueline Pei, & Piush J Mandhane. (2019). Screen-time is associated with inattention problems in preschoolers: Results from the CHILD birth cohort study. PLoS ONE, 14(4), e0213995–e0213995. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213995
Xie, G., Deng, Q., Cao, J., & Chang, Q. (2020). Digital screen time and its effect on preschoolers’ behavior in China: results from a cross-sectional study. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 46(1), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13052-020-0776-x
Teaching Self Love to Children through a Growth Mindset By Izzy Devorkin, NCC, RMHCI
For children, February often revolves around classroom Valentine’s Day parties, making Valentine cards for friends and family, and eating endless candy and chocolate hearts. It’s amazing to see children so excited to craft valentine cards and gifts for their loved ones, but how can we encourage them to show this same kindness and love to themselves?
The development of self love in a child has significant positive impacts. We often think that a child will inherently grow to love themselves, but it’s important to teach children about self-love just as we would teach them about anything else. Benefits to self love include increased strength and resilience, increased productivity, and decreased stress.
It’s important to note the difference between self love and self esteem. Self esteem is the confidence in abilities and seeing oneself as being “good” at something. A person may have high self esteem when it comes to academics, but low self esteem when it comes to sports. Self love is an overall acceptance, understanding and appreciation of oneself. The difference is necessary to note as a child may seem to have high self esteem, but may be unaware of the importance of self love or how to incorporate it into their acceptance of themselves.
One of the most important ways to encourage self love in a child is to help promote a growth mindset. The term growth mindset was developed by Stanford University Psychology Professor Carol Dweck. Carol Dweck stated, “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.”
It’s important to note that there are two main types of mindsets; a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. A growth mindset is the belief that through effort and practice, a person is able to change their abilities. People with a growth mindset are often inspired by other people’s successes, see challenges as opportunities to grow and learn, understand the process is more important than the outcome, and learn from feedback. People with a fixed mindset are often threatened by other people’s successes, believe intelligence cannot be changed, avoid challenges, and give up easily due to obstacles.
A growth mindset and self love go hand-in-hand. When a child has a growth mindset, they learn to accept mistakes and see themselves as being capable of trying new things and overcoming challenges. With a growth mindset, a child understands that their achievements came from hard work. So how can you help facilitate a growth mindset in your child?
Praise the process
It’s important to focus more on the process and effort that goes into something versus the outcome. It’s crucial to be genuine and specific with your praise. Instead of saying “good job!” it’s significantly more beneficial to say “good job trying to use another strategy to figure out that math problem.” Being specific lets your child know exactly what they did that you are praising, which is more likely to increase that behavior moving forward.
Talk about and accept mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow
Model talking about your own mistakes and how you used them as opportunities to learn and grow. Explain to your child that the brain is a muscle, and just like any other muscle in the body, exercise helps it grow! When your child overcomes challenges and continues to put in effort despite difficulties, they are exercising their brain and helping it grow.
Model resilience, self love and positive self talk
In addition to modeling the importance of accepting mistakes as opportunities to grow, it’s crucial to model resilience and positive self talk. You play a huge role in influencing your children’s mindset. It’s necessary to show your child that you are excited by challenges, see mistakes as learning opportunities, and understand the value of practice and overcoming difficulties. Using positive self talk will help you develop your own growth mindset as well!
Understand the role of emotions in learning
Express to your child that feeling frustrated is a natural part of overcoming challenges. It’s important that instead of giving up, a child has the tools to help themselves self regulate and handle the frustration without giving up on a challenge. Belly breathing is one of the most beneficial tools a person can use to help themselves feel regulated. This video does a fantastic job of explaining belly breathing to a child. Encourage your child to take a brain break and belly breathe when feeling frustrated.
This month, praise the effort and process when your child is working hard to make Valentine cards for their loved ones. Encourage your child to make a Valentine card for themselves with a little self love letter. This activity will help your child engage in positive self-talk, and reflect on all the things they truly love about themselves. It’s the perfect way to practice having a growth mindset!
Ever wonder what play therapy is or why kids need it? Click the link to watch the video “Introducing Andrew” before reading more!
This lovely video is so accurate when we think about the difference between talk therapy for adults and play therapy for children. Children do not have the language or maturity to express themselves fully with words. (Actually, many adults do not yet either.) Therefore, toys are a child’s words and play is their language. Play therapy is an effective, creative approach that meets the child where he or she is, and utilizes their language, play!
When placed in the right therapeutic environment, with a good therapeutic relationship, a child will gravitate towards acting and working out tough problems that cannot be verbally expressed. Therapeutic play is very different from regular play. A trained play therapist recognizes themes in play, promotes emotion regulation, self-control and confidence. A trained play therapist also will use evidence-based interventions shown to be effective for treating the presenting issue.
You can read more about play therapy and search for a Registered Play Therapist in your area at www.A4PT.org.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders among teenagers. Before the pandemic, the rates of anxiety and depression among teens were on the rise, but recent CDC data suggests that mental health for teenagers has been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Increased pressure to succeed in school, living in the age of social media, and living in a society plagued with mass shootings and war coverage on the media are all factors that affect how teens cope with symptoms of anxiety. We can now add covid related stressors like social isolation, missed milestones, increases in family stress, and online school pressures to the list of factors that influence teens today. Teens are especially vulnerable to feeling the effects of these outside stresses because they are in a unique stage of life that is already filled with uncertainty and doubt within themselves. Being aware of what teens worry about, how to best support them, as well as what symptoms to look for that may signal the need for help are all important areas for parents and teachers to be aware of to lower teen risk factors for anxiety disorders.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a broad description of multiple different mental disorders. Some of the more common anxiety disorders are specific phobias, panic disorder, separation anxiety, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, selective mutism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anxiety can look different in different people, but it is generally an overreaction of the sympathetic nervous system, or fight, flight, or freeze response, so something that is perceived as a threat when it is not. Teens today worry about school performance, college admission and scholarships, others’ perceptions of them, and their changing bodies. Some amount of anxiety is normal and healthy, it motivates us to achieve and excel, but often the symptoms of anxiety can become overwhelming and lead to unhealthy effects on the brain and body. There are many outward symptoms of anxiety to look for in teens and different teens may have different combinations of symptoms. Some symptoms include:
How Can I Help My Teen?
Anxiety disorders may be on the rise, but the good news is that there is hope and help for teens who may be feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed by anxious thoughts and worries. Some good preventative measures can be helpful to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle that can lower a teen’s risk for developing an anxiety disorder but be aware that sometimes genetics play a larger role. Risk factors include genetic predisposition, social isolation, parental overprotection or parental indifference, a temperament prone to behavioral inhibition (fear-based temperament from childhood), high screen time, low physical activity, poor nutrition, and poor sleeping habits. Research suggests that teens with less than 2 hours of screen time have a significantly lower risk for anxiety and this is noteworthy. It may be due to the sleeplessness teens experience when they stay up too late watching videos or movies, or the lack of physical activity that occurs when teens spend too much time on screens, but it is something to pay attention to in lowering the risk of anxiety disorders. It is also important that teens are getting enough sleep, well-rounded nutrition, and regular physical activity to combat the effects of too much stress on their bodies. The best strategy for parenting teens who worry a lot is to acknowledge and empathize with the teens’ feelings while also not giving too much credit to the worry or fear. Showing your support for hard emotions is important but giving too much attention to worry can make it grow.
Even when all the preventative measures are taken, some teens have a predisposition to anxiety disorders and may need extra help to learn to manage and overcome the symptoms. Seeing a counselor who can help them learn to combat those anxious thoughts, and tolerate the discomfort through exposure, mindfulness, and coping skills will lead to a healthier and happier life. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy combined with mindfulness strategies has been shown to have great success in combatting anxiety. Medication may be needed by some as well to receive the full benefits of therapy. It is important not to ignore your teen’s overwhelming anxiety symptoms because untreated anxiety can lead to substance abuse, depression, and even suicidality. Children who are exhibiting behavioral inhibition, fear of strangers, or new activities, have a much higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder as a teen and young adult and would benefit from earlier treatment as a preventative measure. Anxiety is a normal part of life for everyone, and a certain amount can be beneficial, but when teens get overwhelmed and do not have the skills to cope or manage their symptoms, the problem can grow and become unmanageable. Offering support, modeling healthy habits, and encouragement of healthy lifestyle choices can make a big difference in preventing your teen from developing an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety among kids is on the rise. Wider access to CBT may provide needed solutions. (n.d.). Https://Www.Apa.Org. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2022/10/child-anxiety-treatment
Better ways to combat anxiety in youth. (n.d.). Https://Www.Apa.Org. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/12/combat-anxiety
Kim, S., Favotto, L., Halladay, J., Wang, L., Boyle, M. H., & Georgiades, K. (2020).
Differential associations between passive and active forms of screen time and adolescent mood and anxiety disorders. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric
Epidemiology, 55(11), 1469–1478. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-020-01833-9
Miller, C. (2022). How Anxiety Affects Teenagers. Child Mind Institute. https://childmind.org/article/signs-of-anxiety-in-teenagers
The Crisis of Youth Mental Health | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.nami.org/Blogs/From-the-CEO/April-2022/The-Crisis-of-Youth-Mental-Health
General, O. of the S. (2021, December 7). U.S. Surgeon General Issues Advisory on Youth Mental Health Crisis Further Exposed by COVID-19 Pandemic [Text]. HHS.Gov. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/12/07/us-surgeon-general-issues-advisory-on-youth-mental-health-crisis-further-exposed-by-covid-19-pandemic.html
Dr. Bruce Perry’s Regulate, Relate, Reason Framework By Izzy Devorkin, RMHCI, NCC
Do you think your child could win an award for having the world's longest tantrums? It may sometimes feel this way. Many times, your child’s tantrums cause extreme frustration for both you and your child. As a parent, there are certain tools that can be used in conjunction with your child’s tantrums to help them learn, think, and reflect. This framework will also help strengthen your relationship with your child.
Dr. Bruce Perry, a renowned neuroscientist in the field of children's mental health and trauma, created a simple sequence that will help you as a parent feel more prepared for a tantrum, and your child feel more supported. This sequence is known as The Three R’s.
It’s helpful to learn this framework through an example. Let’s use a classic one - your child is having a tantrum because you won’t let them have a second piece of cake at a birthday party. Your child’s tantrum may feel embarrassing especially when you’re surrounded by others, so what can you do? First, try your best to ignore the reactions of people around you, and focus on what you can do in the moment rather than what other people are thinking about you and your child.
The Three R’s: Regulate, Relate, Reason
This is where we start. The moment your child starts having a tantrum it’s important to take action to help them regulate, and make sure you’re regulated yourself. It may be helpful to ask your child during a time when they are relaxed, what helps them calm down. Some kids like to have space, some like having their back rubbed or having some water and a snack, it really depends on what helps your child feel best. It’s also important that you as a parent are aware of what helps calm you down so you feel like you can handle the situation. Whether that’s taking some deep breaths or having a glass of water, find what it is that helps you feel regulated.
It may be hard to understand that sometimes your child needs space, and you may be tempted to show affection because that’s what will make you feel better, but it’s crucial to do what feels right for them. In the example of wanting a second piece of cake, maybe your child needs physical touch to regulate, so you spend a few minutes or however long it takes rubbing their back until they start to show signs of calming down. It’s important to limit language in this step, and really use it as a time to let your child process their emotions.
This is where connection comes in. Once you and your child have both calmed down, this is where a calm and soothing dialogue can be introduced through saying compassionate and empathetic things like “I sometimes want two pieces of cake too” or “it can be really frustrating when we can’t have what we want.” This is a really important moment to build those connections with your child and relate to them. If your child doesn’t seem ready to accept dialogue, you can also let them know that you are there when they are ready.
This is the last step of the sequence, and it’s crucial to not jump to reasoning until you have gone through the other R’s. Many times, it’s a natural response to want to reason with your child right away and say things like “if you have another piece of cake your tummy will hurt and you will feel sick.” Trying to reason first will not work as it takes a higher level of thinking, and when a child is completely dysregulated and having big emotions, their thinking brain is not turned on, and your dialogue may cause even more frustration for the child.
After you and your child are regulated, and you have related with your child, then the reasoning can come into play. This is when you can say things like “I don’t want your tummy to hurt and having a lot of cake can make you feel sick.” This is a great time to name the child’s emotions and use this as an opportunity to help your child learn more about their big feelings.
If this sequence was skipped and you just took your child home from the birthday party without utilizing this sequence, the tantrum may have been prolonged and you have missed an opportunity to connect with your child and help them learn and reflect.
The Three R’s can be used any time a child is having a meltdown. To help you remember Three R’s, it may be beneficial to have post-it notes throughout your home that say ‘RRR’ to help jog your memory in times of dysregulation. Having this simple reminder will allow you to feel in control of your emotions, and increase your confidence in your ability to approach the situation at hand. It will take practice to feel prepared in utilizing this approach, but the more you practice implementing it, the more natural and effective it will become.
Worry is the thought component of anxiety. An important part of effectively managing anxiety is recognizing, challenging, and changing unhelpful thoughts and thinking patterns.
Worry can be productive and facilitate planning and problem solving for an upcoming event or figuring out how to prepare for an upcoming challenge. It can be beneficial for academic achievement. It can enhance focus and motivation. For example, if your child is worried about an upcoming test worry can encourage productive studying and enhance performance. It can also motivate action to prepare for potential risk or challenges, such as gathering supplies and an evaluation plan if a predicted hurricane nears. Worry might also help a child think through consequences and be more cautious to moderate risk-taking behavior.
When worry is addressed or facilitates productive action it is a manageable and helpful part of normal life. Everyone worries. Just like we do not want to get rid of all anxiety, we do not want to get rid of all worry. The goal is to recognize and use worry to make safe choices and prepare or plan for necessary responses to challenges.
However, worry is an ineffective method to solve problems if thoughts begin to focus on extremes (e.g., the “what if…” or highly unlikely 1% possible negative outcomes) and become out of balance to real danger or circumstances. When worry is excessive, frequent and/or interferes with enjoying and full functioning in life it can become a significant problem. It is a problem when worry is unrealistic with an exaggerated risk or probability that results in a child not wanting to participate in expected or otherwise enjoyable activities.
What anxiety might look like for children and teens
Steps to Managing Worry
THOUGHTS: Teaching children that they can reduce worry and that worry thoughts are connected to how they feel is the first step to helping them effectively manage worry. Helping children identify worry as thoughts and choose more helpful and realistic thoughts is the goal.
Different types of thoughts can make a person feel more or less anxious. Encourage the Maybe for unknown. Help children become comfortable tolerating uncertainty (and that we cannot know 100% what will happen in any given situation). Learning strategies to increase calming thoughts and relaxation strategies to calm our body can help reduce worry and better manage anxiety.
Challenge Worry: Break it down to understand concerns. Guide child/teen to more balanced or helpful thoughts. Ask “What is the evidence for this/against this”? Question “Are you sure?” “Is that a fact or feeling?” “Am I jumping to conclusions?”.
Help children identify and choose more helpful and realistic second thoughts, so that children realize that they are able to handle worry and feel better by noticing and transforming self-talk, perspective, and the thoughts.
Model healthy coping and express how you manage worries.
Facilitate problem solving and work together to come up with a plan rather than offering a solution or fixing the problem so your child is empowered to address the problem.
ACTIONS: While worry is the thought component of anxiety, there are actions that can help decrease and manage worry.
Physical sensations (our fight or flight response) and emotional reactions are also part of anxiety. Relaxation strategies (diaphragmatic “belly” breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery) can help reduce the physiological symptoms of anxiety. Some suggestions for helping children manage anxious thoughts and worry (particularly when it is problematic) are presented below.
Finally, show compassion and help your child identify and express his or her feelings. Keep the worry in perspective. Validate feelings first. Don’t minimize feelings or dismiss worry Listen. Model calm. Acknowledge concerns and then help them come up with more useful thoughts. Make sure your child gets adequate sleep and re-sets with physical activity every day.
Coping Skills for Anxiety www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/coping-skills-anxiety
Worry Less in 3 Steps: kidshealth.org/Nemours/en/kids/worry-less.html
It’s nearly impossible to go through life without experiencing some form of betrayal, aggression or just plain insensitivity from someone. People can hurt you in so many different ways and forgiving them is not always easy. When we feel betrayed by someone we trust and love, it can be extremely hard to understand why that person hurt us, intentionally or not. However, unresolved conflict, holding on to grudges or ruminating can have a significant effect on your physical and mental health.
Chronic anger puts your body in flight or fight mode, which results in numerous changes to your heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. It can cause depression, anxiety, problems sleeping and concentrating. Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can lower the risk of heart attack, improve cholesterol levels, improve sleep, reduce pain, reduce blood pressure and decrease levels of anxiety, depression and stress.
Depending on the offense, forgiveness can seem nearly impossible. It can be difficult to find compassion for someone who has wronged you. It may even feel like forgiving them is like letting them off the hook. However, forgiveness allows you to let go of the negative emotions and thoughts and be able to move forward, either with or without that person.
Forgiveness is not just saying the words. It’s a choice that is made. It’s a process in which you are actively making a decision to let go of negative feelings whether it’s deserved or not. Depending on the severity of the offense, the process could take weeks, months or even years.
The following steps can help with the process of forgiveness:
Forgiveness is tough at times, however, the more you practice forgiveness the better you’ll be at it. And the research is clear, that forgiveness leads to a happier and healthier life.
I have been conducting autism evaluations for over fifteen years and have seen every way to do it. I have worked in clinics where time was short and evaluations were rushed, I have worked in settings where detail and the process were valued, and I have even seen some clinics who offer diagnoses via telehealth. In my journey working with this wonderful population, the most meaningful experiences for the child, the family, and myself have been found when the time is taken to truly understand each person’s perspective, concerns, needs, and especially their strengths. I always strive to listen to parents, to honor their concerns, to observe the child and note their most special qualities, to include the providers who work so hard and so closely with the child and family, and to provide feedback that is kind, respectful, thoughtful, and positive. I have told countless families that a diagnosis does not change anything about how wonderful the child is; it simply helps us understand them better and to guide the next steps for support.
Years ago, when I began to cultivate my practice and determined how I wanted to offer the gold standard in autism evaluations, I determined that it cannot be a rushed process and that all people need to be heard. That is why I sit with the child and family for a detailed intake process, asking specific questions, allowing parents to share stories and examples, and paying attention to what they need as a parent during this process. Allowing the child to play, explore the office, interact with their parents and myself, and become comfortable is an essential part of the evaluation as well. It allows me to start to get to know them, observe nuances of their interactions, and start to build rapport. When the child and parent return for the evaluation session, both are more comfortable and relaxed which offers more opportunity to truly see both strengths and weaknesses during the assessment. I enjoy the playful process of the evaluation, a chance to be silly with your child, and to put everyone at ease. I want to see each child at their best and may even ask mom or dad to join us on the floor; often you can get more from your child and I want to see what they are truly capable of! I always include developmental or cognitive testing as well so that I can get a full picture of your child and their needs.
Combined with our intake discussion, parent and teacher forms, and all my observations and assessments I have plenty of information to pour through and compile into a detailed and thorough evaluation report. My goal is to look at all the information with a microscope and then to pull back and look at the big picture and patterns. This allows me to formulate the diagnosis that most truly fits. No one is feeling particularly hopeful when scheduling an autism evaluation for their child and my goal is to put parents’ minds at ease, to allow them to trust my process, and to support them in the journey. The outcome is that most parents leave feedback sessions feeling grateful, relieved, and hopeful about their child’s next steps. We take our time during the feedback meeting, discussing details of the data, offering explanations of my observations, and educating the parent about the diagnosis. Parents are free to ask questions, challenge the data, and to indicate if they feel I truly saw their child. I always provide detailed next steps, a roadmap individualized for your child, and offer continued consultation as needed after the evaluation. My goal is for your child to succeed, for you to know how to best understand and support them, and for everyone to see the gifts each child has to offer.
Dr. Martin is now accepting new clients for evaluations for ages 2-18 at her office in Venice FL for immediate availability. She provides a comprehensive and collaborative evaluation process to assess for autism or other developmental disorders. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about scheduling.
Mindful Behavioral Health
333 S Tamiami Trail, Suite 283
Venice FL 34285
As winter approaches, our daily routines are easily influenced by the changing weather and holiday season. Days feel shorter, despite the additional errands and activities we commit ourselves to during this time of year, and sooner than later you may find yourself lost among the chaos of appeasing others before putting your own needs first. If you are struggling to take care of yourself this holiday season, the below tips and resources can help you cope with the triggers you may face and help you kick off the new year on a more purposeful stroke.
Prioritizing Yourself: Setting Boundaries and Establishing New Expectations in Groups
Spending time with family can feel heartwarming and rejuvenating, but if you often find yourself eventually feeling overwhelmed by family dynamics or socially claustrophobic it is important to listen to the signals your body is sending you and have a plan to remove yourself from the situation in order to stabilize your nervous system. You might notice yourself mentally drifting from the present environment, your body temperature rising, your leg shaking or your fingers rapping, your stomach growing painful or nauseous; these are all signs of anxiety rising and your body telling you it is not comfortable with your surroundings.
Acknowledging these physiological manifestations of distress is the first step in being able to effectively self-regulate your body. Once you notice the discomfort, it’s important to reflect on what in your environment is causing you to feel so dysregulated in order to respond appropriately. Below are some ways you might take care of yourself in these situations.
Proactively, if you know what will trigger you:
Healthy Routines: Nourishing Your Mind and Body
As schedules are constantly changing to accommodate for hurried errands and festive events, it is easy to get caught up in making sure you accomplish every task without considering your own needs first. This is especially exacerbated by the impact Daylight Savings has on the circadian rhythm our bodies are naturally used to following. Furthermore, being surrounded by others who seem like they are able to handle the stress of this time of year with grace and perfection can negatively impact how successfully you feel like you have managed your own responsibilities. Reference the below reminders to ensure you are supporting yourself before worrying about others during this hectic season.
Eat Well and Hydrate
Follow the below resources for more information and guidance on how to approach this holiday season with intention and mindfulness.
Parent and Child Psychological Services is a private practice serving children and families in the Sarasota, Florida area. The practice is owned and operated by Dr. Gibson, a Licensed Psychologist who is Board Certified in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.