The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.

Everything listed under: children

  • 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.

  • A Time for Stress, Scheduling and School Supplies

    Stress Scheduling and School Supplies

    A Time for Stress, Scheduling and School Supplies

    Back-to-School time can make parents stress over school supplies, their children's transition back to classwork and their own transitions at work or home. Anytime the seasons change, the school year begins or ends, a family moves homes or  any other transitional period, we can face some real unexpected or complex challenges. Most adults don’t typically do well with the “unknown” that an impending change creates and our kids can feel similarly. It’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed and a little unsure.  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

    So, how to deal with our own anxieties as parents, teachers or other professionals working with kids? How do we help our kids cope more successfully at the same time? Let’s start with the basics of how adults can be successful at the beginning of the school year:

    1. Take care of yourself in order to take care of others.
    2. Lower your expectations of being the perfect parent or teacher. That doesn’t exist.
    3. Seek help and support when you need it.  You don’t have to go this alone without complaint or a pick-me-up of your own.
    4. Work with and organize with the other parents or professionals in your kids’ lives.
    5. Communicate with your spouse or partner to share the load if you can.
    6. Get organized ahead of time. Get the supplies a few weeks before school starts.


    Here are a few ways to support the kids in your life as the school year starts:

    1. Be clear with your expectations (household chores, homework time, etc.).
    2. Keep a schedule/routine.
    3. Have consistent wake times and bedtimes now that the school year is here.
    4. Less screen time, more interpersonal interaction or time outside (before it gets too cold!).
    5. Let your child be bored. Increase the need to use imagination and be creative.
    6. Spend time with your child. Don’t wait for the perfect time or event.
    7. Open the door to communication without interrogating them.
    8. Empathize. In their world,  a day of school may sound way worse than that all-day meeting about the process of building a process you just sat through at work.
    9. Problem solve with them.
    10. Take breaks if highly emotional or a heated situation arises. 

    While this is not an exhaustive list of tips and ideas, healthy communication will increase healthier interactions and smarter choices for both you and the kids in your life. Get involved in your kids’ lives but don’t overextend yourself. Ask for help when you need it. You’re not alone and just do the best that you can. 

    “At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”
    - Jane D. Hull



    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Meghan Reitz, LCPC, NCCMeghan Reitz, LCPC, NCC, has worked within the counseling profession for over 14 years. Her therapist experience includes providing individual, couples, family, group, and crisis counseling. She also speaks with companies and groups on mental health and wellness topics. Learn more about Meghan HERE.

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