The MLRA Therapy Blog

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

Everything listed under: children

  • 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.

  • 8 Ways to Tune-Up Your Parenting

    Eating Disorders and Therapy

    8 Ways to Tune-Up Your Parenting

    There are ups and downs and sometimes sideways or even upside downs when it comes to being a parent. Children can be challenging and often our adult brains tell us to handle our kids as if they are mini-adults. Unfortunately, this can run us head-on into challenging situations. As counselors, we recommend periodic tune-ups for parenting education. In this post, we will suggest a few easy-to-implement tips and ideas to enhance your positive parenting style. WARNING: With time and practice, positive changes in the behaviors of your children may occur!

    1. Proactive vs. Reactive
      Being proactive tends to be far more productive than being reactive in almost every aspect of our lives. However, putting that into practice can be a bit more difficult with your kids. Be conscious of your own coping style with regards to your child’s behaviors. Try to set ground rules and expectations BEFORE there are problems.
    2. Choose Priorities
      If you find yourself feeling like “nothing works” or your child’s behavior is “always” a problem, stop and think about your priorities and the real-world actions your child is taking. In short, pick and choose your battles more carefully. Leaving socks on the floor versus failing a test due to not studying should not be treated as the same offense. Consequences you institute as a parent should reflect this.
    3. Structure, Consistency, Frequency
      Children thrive on schedules and routines even if they outwardly avoid them. It may appear that they desire more free reign but this in actuality is part of their developmental growth and learning process. They are testing boundaries, figuring out what’s acceptable and unacceptable behavior, etc. Routines lessen the chance for anxiety and maladaptive behaviors.
    4. Patience is YOUR virtue
      Grace under pressure should be the motto you carry with you on a constant basis and in every reaction to your child’s behavior. By regulating how you react to a child’s maladaptive behavior, you minimize highly charged emotions. So, what to do when you’re having a bad day and just walked in the door from work to find your child is watching television when he/she was supposed to be doing homework. If you start screaming and yelling at him/her, it is virtually guaranteed that this will escalate and most likely turn into reactive responding. Instead, take a moment to check in with your emotions. You’re frustrated and disappointed. That’s ok. Request that he/she discontinue the activity and rely on what consequences you have set out ahead of time as an intervention.
    5. Emotional Regulation
      Just as the above motto is important to keep in mind, making sure you’re taking care of your own emotional health is key to healthy parenting. How do you deal with your anger, frustration, or sadness? Your child is not a mini-adult and cannot be reasoned with when you’re feeling large doses of these emotions. If you escalate an argument or a consequence because you can’t regulate your own anger or frustration, you are role modeling a behavior for your child that they will then use themselves in the future.
    6. Sensory Activities and Learning
      With the advent of parenting activity blogs, Pinterest, and other online resources at our fingertips, taking active approaches to spending time with your kids has never been easier. Be sure not to over-structure with a constant stream of prepared activities but maybe consider spending every Sunday afternoon as a time for sensory play or activities. We’ve learned that some fan favorites like sand trays, glitter jars, and glitter slime can all be completed with common household items. This encourages tactile learning, creativity, and family interaction.
    7. Have a sense of humor!
      There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Have realistic expectations of yourself, your spouse or partner, and your children. Just as we pick our battles, know that there is time for laughter and joy, even when things don’t go to plan.
    8. Work with a Counselor
      Professional counselors do more than “fix problems” and can be an extremely effective guide to teach skills for more successful parenting before problems start. Some common parenting education areas we focus on are:
      • Listening Skills
      • Communication Skills
      • Appropriate Consequences and Rewards
      • Practicing Skills in Real Life
      • Accountability

    Parenting is hard but rewarding. There is no perfect parent no matter what you see on social media. If you are struggling, try to follow some of the above approaches for a happier and healthier home and family environment.



    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Meghan Reitz, LCPC, NCCMeghan Reitz, LCPC, NCC, has worked within the counseling profession for over 13 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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