The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.
  • From Summer to School


    It’s hard to believe that school is already in full swing! Fresh new school supplies, dusting off the old tablet, seeing old friends and making new ones are some great positives for students returning to school. There are also the early mornings, long days and navigating treacherous social circles.

    We are here to help! At MLRA, we work with students ages five and up to address transitions, attention issues, social/emotional wellness and behavioral challenges. Whether you are a parent or teacher (or both), seeking support from your local mental health resources is one way to get off to a great start..

    Here are a few back to school tips we give our child/adolescent clients:

    1. Talk to your parents - share what you feel and think.
    2. Breathe - especially if you are anxious about getting to school.
    3. Talk to your teacher - be sure that your teacher knows if you are feeling anxious or over-worried.
    4. Learn to self-soothe - color, draw, play games, read, be active.
    5. Follow what your parents identify as your schedule/routine.
    6. Sleep! You will feel better and more alert during the day.
    7. Eat! Make sure to have breakfast - it starts your day on the right foot.

    Here are a few back to school tips for teachers and parents:

    1. Take care of yourself - get plenty of sleep, eat regularly, exercise
    2. Work with your child to put in place a schedule/routine, and stick to it
    3. Be open to listening to your child - give them a safe place to talk about worries, anxiety
    4. Coordinate with your child’s care team - include pediatricians, psychiatrists, counselors, school social workers, teachers, etc. in making sure a gameplan is in place to help support your child
    5. Set rules and expectations clearly and follow through on them

    Remember, patience, self-care and boundary setting can go a long way in the transition from Summer to School. We encourage everyone to seek out  and use healthy coping skills to deal with distress and change. You’ve got this!


  • Tantrums: Part Deux

    More Tantrum advice

    "To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today." -Unknown (www.parenting.com)

    Let's talk more about tantrums. Can there really be too much information about this topic? Here are a few things to consider from the physiological angle of behavior in children:

    • 90% of brain development occurs as early as before age 5
    • Full development of the brain occurs by age 25
    • Critical period of life/brain development occurs between age 5 and puberty
    • Last part of brain to develop is the frontal lobe – brain’s top executive functioning
    • “Neurons that fire together wire together.” (Hebb’s axiom)

    Source: Psychology Today     

    Remember: A child’s brain is like a house under construction.

    Let’s get into Dr. Thomas Phelan’s 1-2-3 Magic program. Here are some things to consider, institute techniques and manage parents’ behaviors:

    1. Counting: 1-2-3, then take 5

    2. Kids are NOT little adults

    3. Don’t engage in a power struggle

    4. Be a united front with the other parent

    5. Your authority is non-negotiable

    6. Routine, routine, routine

    7. Time-Outs and Reverse Time-Outs

    8. No spanking (that’s a parental temper tantrum)

    9. Be the master of “quick exit”

    10. Use tantrums/behavioral outbursts as teachable moments

    These tenets can be found in Dr. Phelan’s books and on his website. We at Meghan L. Reitz & Assoc. use this program consistently with our young clients and their families. 

    Be sure to be a role model, live your own life, let your children love you and work on your relationship with your significant other. Being an effective parent means being a healthy adult. We cannot be successful in navigating a child’s emotions and behaviors if we do not take care of ourselves.

  • Tantrums!

    tantrums

    Raise your hand if you've experienced your child having a tantrum. I'm pretty sure anyone reading this would indicate they've seen this behavior before. You are not alone! This blog article will get into some nuts and bolts on how to deal.

    Let's start first with parenting resources. Most of us barely have time to manage our households- and then to be expected to read up on parenting?! There will be some positives, though, if you consider reading the following book: 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan. I will mention some other resources at the end of this article, but if you seek any book/parenting program, this should be your number one go-to.

    1-2-3 Magic is essentially a behavioral management program for kids- and parents! It uses counting and a clear disciplinary approach to parenting. Here are a few things to remember:

    1) Your child is not a little adult.

    2) You make the rules.

    3) Stay consistent.

    4) No monologues.

    5) Follow through.

    6) Use time-outs and reverse time-outs.

    Other resources include No-Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel and Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman. They propose:

    1) Discipline is essential.

    2) Pay attention to your child's emotions.

    3) Validate a child's feelings.

    4) Assess your parenting style.

    5) Label emotions in a way your child can understand.

    6) Watch your emotional response.

    The health of your relationship with your significant other can also be of paramount importance in how your child behaves and reacts. Some great resources on healthy marriages and relationships include The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, What Makes Love Last by John Gottman and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, also by Gottman. In these books, you will have opportunities to practice more effective communication skills and develop healthier bonds. This in turn will provide a more safe, calm, stable and loving environment for your child. If those things are in place, you should see tantrums and acting out diminish.

    Remember: To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today. -Unknown (www.parenting.com)

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