Talking to Your Child

Originally, my goal was to write a blog weekly, but it is not realistic for two reasons. First, I want this blog to be meaningful. I do not want to write to just to write. This became evident as I sat in front of my computer trying to force something out. Second, I have a demanding schedule and finding time weekly is a lot. So my new commitment is to blog at least once a month and any over is just extra.

talking parent

So for February I want to focus on communicating with your child. From the #MeToo Movement to the Florida school shooting, children are being exposed to a lot via the media. First and foremost, as a parent you first have to use active listening. Most people listen long enough to react instead of waiting to hear the person out, and then form a response. This also means not engaging in another activity while they are talking. And using nonverbal signals to show that you are engaged in what they are saying.

Second, reflect back what they stated to make sure that you got a clear understanding of what they are trying to say. This gives your child an opportunity to correct any wrong perception prior to you potentially making a quick judgment.

Third, ask questions for clarification and shows that you really were paying attention. Not to mention it gives clarification, point two.

Fourth, give them the reasons behind your answer. I grew up in the era of “Because I said so!” Children will accept a negative response better if they first are heard, and second they can have some type of understanding of your reasoning.

Fifth, do not ignore their questions just because you are uncomfortable with the topic. You would rather your child get answers from you then from their friends or the internet. You are also able to control what they learn first. If you need advice on how to approach the topic, schedule a later time to talk and then research.

And sixth, if you find that your child needs more assistance understanding the subject, seek out a professional to help. There have been a number of times I see a client who states they have been asking for therapy for months/years. No child is going to ask for therapy just for fun.

I hope these suggestions are helpful for you talking with your children. Feel free to ask any questions.

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Brick Crushers

This weekend I had the opportunity to go on a board retreat to work on planning for 2018 for a girl’s organization I am honored to be a part of. In between planning, I was able to interact and enjoy the company of two virtious and powerful women. As I reflect back over the weekend, I found a quote that sums up these two women:

Both of these women have amazing stories of how they have and continue to overcome the “bricks” that life has thrown their way. They are also both dedicated to helping others overcome their bricks. I believe that you have to surround yourself with people who inspire and these two women inspire me daily.

We all have “bricks” that are thrown at us. What makes you successful is how you deal with those bricks. I tell my clients “you can’t change the things that have happened to you, but you can choose how you allow those things to affect you today and in the future.” Each one of us has to make the decision to either let go of past hurts or use those hurts in a positive way. If we do not make one of these two choices, then we are doomed to live an unfilled life.

This weekend has reminded me that I am successful and I have crushed the bricks of my past. It has also given me confidence that I will continue to be successful crushing new bricks because I choose to handle them with wisdom, maturity, and class in the same manner I watch these two women.

How to Support the Healing of Your Child

I am apart of a powerful women’s entrepreneurial group where we read a book and have a discussion about the impact the book had us. Our first book is Iyanla Vanzant’s Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What Your’re Going Through. This book is an autobiography where Iyanla explores her past trauma and the generational pathology of her family. One of the questions posed by one of the group members was “which adult from Iyanla’s childhood we thought was in the best position to protect her and make everything alright.” My response to the question was  “The adults in her life were not in a position to make everything right as they had never dealt with their issues and trauma. I run across so many families who want us (therapists) to “fix” children when the real issue is the parents. And when I say the real issue is the parents, I mean they have never dealt with their issues and that effects the way in which they parent continuing the passing down of generational issues.” Her response to me was “I see! Wow. Heal the parents which would enable them to support the healing of the child.” I thought, “Exactly! Somebody gets it!”

The first step to caregivers helping their children through issues that require therapy is to first deal with their own issues. One of the statements I make to the parents of the children I treat is “In order for me to help your child, you have to be a part of the treatment. That means there may be times when you have to meet with me alone where we may have to address things from your past that are impacting your relationship with your child. I cannot help your child without also helping you.” Many caregivers do not realize how their past issues have seeped into their current relationships and coping. Ignorance is not bliss! Ignoring what has occurred in your past is the breeding ground for pathology.

Caregivers for the benefit of the children you are raising, please face the issues from your past. Therapy is not for “crazy people” as it has been stigmatized in the past. Therapy is for everyone who is willing to face their past and want to change.

Man and woman holding hands at a table

Close up on a man and a woman holding hands at a wooden table

Dance as therapy!

There were two videos this past week that went viral. One was a six years-old girl who was invited to perform at the Zumba conference This young lady had amazing moves, but more remarkable is she has a bone marrow disease. She uses dance as a way to deal with living with this disease. The other was a video of a woman who used dance to deal with labor pains prior to giving birth to her second child. So today, I decided to do a blog on Dance Therapy.

The American Dance Therapy Association defines Dance Therapy as “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual.” Dance Therapy is used with people of all ages and in all populations to help individuals with developmental, medical, social, physical and psychological impairments. I can remember volunteering for the Special Olympics Prom for DeKalb County in Georgia. One year the prom fell on the same night as the prom of the school I worked at. We had regular education students who chose to volunteer at the Special Education prom over attending the school prom. Dance served as an equalizer between the special education students and the regular education students. For those hours they were one and shared a love of music and dance.

Recent articles have shown that Dance Therapy has successfully been used with clients who have dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, eating disorders, autism, and with people in prisons. There are only a select number of universities in the United States that offer degrees in Dance Therapy, but there are alternative ways in which therapist’s can become certified to use Dance Therapy. You click the link above and go to the American Dance Therapy Association’s website to locate a dance therapist in your area.

I hope more people find dance as a coping skill to use to get through whatever they may be going through.

dance