Category Archives: Blog

Tips for Reducing Your Child’s Screen Time

screen-time

Too much screen time can have a negative impact on your child. From temper tantrums to social withdrawal, there are variety of negative consequences associated with technology. This isn’t to say that your child can’t watch TV or play video games on occasion, but it needs to happen in moderation. Here are some tips for reducing your child screen time.

Set Specific Timeframes for Screen Time

Pick certain times of the day that your child can watch TV, play on the computer, use an iPad, etc. The amount of time your child receives will depend on his or her age and maturity level. For instance, you may allow your 10 year old to play video games for 45 minutes after homework is complete. You may allow your 5 year old to have 15 minutes on the tablet after dinner. The specifics are up to you, but just make sure you have some sort of time frame in place. If you allow your child to have open ended screen time, it’s easy for minutes to turn into hours.

Find Alternative Activities for Your Child

There are plenty of ways for a child to be entertained without a screen in front of them. Playing outside, building with Legos, coloring, doing crafts, and reading are just some of the potential sources of entertainment. Find activities that your child enjoys and encourage him or her to do them as much as possible. The screen will seem far less exciting when there are other exciting things going on.

Limit Your Own Screen Time

Children pick up a great deal of their behaviors from the people around them. If they see you consistently on your phone or watching TV, they are more likely to yearn for screen time themselves. When is the last time you read a book for fun? Do you have any projects that need to be completed around the house? If you show your children that you don’t need a screen to have fun, they will follow your example.

Recognize When Screen Time Is Becoming a Problem

If your child is consistently throwing tantrums about watching TV or playing a game, it’s time to re-evaluate his or her privileges. It takes a certain level of maturity to be able to handle technology because it is addicting. Your child may not be ready for that responsibility yet. Make adjustments as needed to ensure your child has positive behavioral development.

For more parenting tips, contact Perspectives Counseling Centers to schedule an appointment with a family counselor near you.

How Long Should Our Engagement Be? Premarital Counseling

engagement

You recently got engaged, and you’re starting to plan your wedding. A big question on your mind is, “How long should our engagement be?” Should you wait six months to get married, or should you stay engaged for a couple years? How long is too long, and how short is too short? We’re here to answer those questions and more, with tips from our premarital counselors in Michigan.

Factors That Influence Engagement Timing

Before we explain the theoretical ‘right’ length of engagement, it’s important to note that every couple is different. There are also many factors that determine how long a couple stays engaged. Some of these might be beyond your control. Some factors that influence engagement time include:

  • How long it takes to plan your wedding
  • When your wedding venue comes available
  • Financial hurdles you have to overcome (paying down debts, making wedding deposits, finding a house, etc.)
  • Personal circumstances, such as a special date for your wedding or an event your wedding must come before
  • How long you have been dating one another
  • Citizenship planning, for international couples
  • Pregnancy and childbirth, if applicable
  • Your personalities

The Average Length of Engagement

If you look up the average timeframe for engagement, the answer will vary based on this source that you read. From our experience working with couples in premarital counseling, most engagements last at least six months, with an average time of one to one and a half years. With that in mind, there are many couples that stay engaged for years and go on to have wonderful marriages. There are also couples that are only engaged for a few short months, and they are able to have successful marriages. You and your fiancé can find a timeframe that works best for your lifestyles and your relationship.

Benefits of Having a Long Engagement

There are some benefits to being engaged for a year or longer. If you decide to live together, this gives you a chance to interact with your future spouse on a daily basis. You can see his or her quirks and notice potential annoyances that you may not have seen before. This is not to say that you will end your relationship because you are spending extra time together. It simply means that you can be prepared for what’s to come in married life.

If you do not choose to live together, having a long engagement still gives you a chance to work out your finances, determine your living situation, get to know each other’s family, and go through other steps in preparation for marriage. The better prepared you are comment the easier what it will be to get to those first few transition years.

How to Ensure a Long, Happy Marriage

The key to having a successful marriage is knowing how to communicate with your spouse. You can prevent or resolve conflicts with ease just by expressing your feelings effectively. This is one of the tasks we focus on in premarital counseling and marriage counseling. It is also something you can work on in your day-to-day life.

If you are interested in premarital counseling, marriage counseling, or couples counseling at Perspectives Counseling Centers, give us a call at (248) 244-8644 to schedule an appointment.

We are what we eat!

We are what we eat!

By Pearl Stewart, LPC

9.30.2018

Omega-3 fatty acids

“Nutritional deficiencies and dietary patterns can affect its function and alter brain chemistry and the formulation of neurotransmitters—chemicals in the brain that can stimulate and calm,” says researcher from CNC. These neurotransmitters influence our mood as well. The most common foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids are: fatty fish like wild salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds. “We are setting ourselves back if we don’t allow our brains to have a good baseline to even approach therapy techniques. This starts with fatty acids. TIP: the best way to get flaxseed, walnuts and chia seeds in your diet is to add it to foods you already eat. Sprinkle some flaxseeds and/or chia seeds into your favorite yogurt, cereal or oatmeal. You won’t regret it!

Caffeine

Caffeine can make us more anxious. A recent study at Wake Forest University found that caffeine reduced blood flow to the brain by 27%. Caffeine also increases your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Another recent study showed that caffeine exacerbates panic attacks in people who have already been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Water water water!

Even mild dehydration can cause mood problems.  According to a study from the University of Connecticut, by the time you feel thirsty it’s too late. Our thirst sensation doesn’t really appear until we’re one or two percent dehydrated.” We need to consume water throughout the day…not just when we feel thirsty. TIP: If you are having a hard time consuming water, add in your favorite fruits and veggies–strawberries, lemons and cucumbers work great.

How to Avoid Holiday Stress | Stress Management Tips

avoid-holiday-stress

Does the thought of the upcoming holidays have you in a panic? From cleaning the house to preparing food to getting presents for your family, there is a lot to think about doing this time of year. Before you overwhelm yourself with tasks and pressure, check out these holiday stress management tips from Perspectives Counseling Centers.

Plan and Prepare as Early as Possible

Stress quickly goes away when you have a plan in place. You may still feel nervous about achieving the plan, but at least you know what to do when the time comes. Start planning for the holidays as early as possible. This includes buying stocking stuffers for your kids, gathering food items that will not spoil, choosing recipes to cook, and doing some of the deep cleaning tasks that you might have been putting off. Create an itinerary for the big holiday so you have a step-by-step to-do list for cooking, presents, and other activities. Then all you have to do is follow it.

Note that having an itinerary also gives you a chance to add to your list when you realize you’ve missed something. You can think about the day from every possible angle and feel well prepared for the celebration.

Don’t Stretch Yourself Too Thin

This applies to all forms of commitment. For instance, you and your spouse may have multiple Thanksgiving dinners to go to between your two families. Rather than trying to cram all the celebrations and to one day, you may be better off spending Thanksgiving with one side of the family and Christmas with the other side of the family. You could also ask one side of the family to celebrate the day before or after Thanksgiving, and then you would be able to spend several hours with each family stress free.

If you are hosting for the holiday, be realistic about how much time and money you have available for food. You could provide the protein while others provide the sides and desserts. Work it out so you are not the one carrying the full burden of the holiday on your shoulder. It is perfectly reasonable to ask for help.

Keep Gifts to a Minimum

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on every gift you give this Christmas. For children, followed the rule of: something they want, something they need, something they wear, something they read. You might splurge on one big item that they want, but keep everything else on a minimal budget.

If you have a large family or a big friend celebration to go to, you may suggest having a Dirty Santa party instead of getting people individual gifts. With Dirty Santa (aka White Elephant), each person brings one gift. That’s it. You can still have a great time, but you don’t have to stress about buying multiple gifts.

Focus on Making Memories

The holidays don’t have to be perfect. They’re about making memories with your loved ones. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and don’t worry about every little detail. It will all come together in the end. Enjoy this special time of year, and focus on what matters most.

Managing Depression after Miscarriage: Part 2

depression-miscarriage

Continued from Part 1

In the second half of this guide, we will provide additional tips for managing depression after miscarriage.

Talk to Other People with Similar Experiences

It may help you to talk to someone who has gone through what you are currently going through. This applies to both the mother and the father of the child. A father’s grief is often forgotten during a miscarriage, but men go through an emotional experience too.

If you have friends who have experienced pregnancy loss, reach out to them and see how they got through their emotions. You could also talk to people on pregnancy or miscarriage forums and find hope in their stories. There are countless success stories after miscarriage. In fact, there are women who have gone through more than a dozen miscarriages and still had successful pregnancies. Seeing their triumph and happiness will give you something to look forward to.  gives you something to look forward to in the future.

Take Steps for the Future

Were there some matters that you wanted to complete before the birth of your child? Maybe you had some projects around the house or some debts that you wanted to pay off. Use this time to put those plans into action. Get everything in place so you are well prepared for another pregnancy down the road, and then try again when the time is right. This is not the end of your opportunities. It is an obstacle in a much bigger journey for you.

Work with a Depression Counselor

In addition to talking to friends, consider talking to a professional about the loss. A depression counselor can speak with you one-on-one to find personalized solutions for your depression. These solutions will fit your lifestyle, experiences, personality, and goals. This also gives you a confidential platform to talk about your emotions, even the ones that you may comfortable sharing with your loved ones. Your therapist will never judge you, and he or she will help you see that every emotion you’re feeling is completely valid.

Contact Perspectives Counseling Centers at (248) 244-8644 to get matched with a depression therapist near you.

Managing Depression after Miscarriage

depression-after-miscarriage

Miscarriage or pregnancy loss can be a devastating experience for a family. This may be your first miscarriage, or you may have been through this before. The pregnancy may have been surprise, or it may have been carefully planned. You may have been pregnant for a few weeks, or you may have been nearing the end of your pregnancy. No matter the circumstances, this loss can shatter your emotions. We are here to help you pick up the pieces.

In the guide below, we will provide tips for managing depression after miscarriage. If you would like to speak to a grief counselor or depression counselor near you, contact Perspectives Counseling Centers.

Don’t Blame Yourself for the Loss

One of the first reactions women have after a miscarriage is to blame themselves. Did I do something wrong? Was it because I did this or ate that? Is there something wrong with my body?

The fact is that every pregnancy has about a 25% chance of miscarriage (the statistics vary for different sources). You may simply be the victim of bad luck. In most instances, a miscarriage happens because a sperm and an egg were not completely compatible. There were abnormalities in the pregnancy that did not allow it to continue, and those circumstances are beyond your control. Do not place blame on yourself for what happened. It is not your fault.

Take Time to Grieve

Right now, you are mourning the loss of a loved one. You may have only known this entity for a few weeks, but it was a part of your life. Take some time to allow yourself to grieve.

You may need to take a few days off work or even a couple weeks to sort through your emotions. In many instances, an employer will consider a miscarriage part of the company’s bereavement policy, so you can get an extended period of time off with pay or without any consequences.

Prepare for a Range of Emotions

You and your significant other may go through a full range of emotions as a result of this. You may feel sad one day, confused the next, and angry another day. You may go through all of those emotions within an hour. Everyone reacts to loss differently, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Embrace these emotions as they come. They are part of the healing process.

Continue to Part 2

Stress Management Starts with Tough Decisions

stress-management

Feel over-stressed, over-worked, and overwhelmed? You are not alone. In fact, a staggering 73% of adults in the U.S. experience psychological symptoms associated with stress (The American Institute of Stress). Whether your stress comes from work, finances, your relationship, your health, or any other source, there are options available to you. Let’s take a look at some stress management strategies, starting with tough-yet-necessary life decisions.

Let Go of Commitments You No Longer Have Time for

Stress management and time management often go hand-in-hand. If you feel stretched for time or sleep deprived, you may need to let go of certain commitments. That book club you once had time for may not suit your current schedule. The animal rescue organization you’ve helped for years may be too much responsibility for you to handle right now.

Even if you find joy in these activities, you may not have the time and energy for them that you once had. Letting go and freeing up more time for yourself will give you a chance to recharge. If your schedule frees up again, you can consider working them back in.

Evaluate Your Social Group

Stress is just as contagious as positivity. Is there someone in your life who constantly brings you down? If so, you may want to distance yourself from them. As much as you may want to support the other person, you have to think of what’s best for your mental health. If their negative energy is dragging you down, you need to do something to lift yourself back up.

Find a New Job or New Fulfillment in Your Current Job

In a stress report from the American Psychological Association, money and work are two of the most common sources of stress in America. If you feel overworked or underappreciated at your job, it may be time for a change. That could be a complete change of employers, or it could be a new development in your current job. Perhaps you could work in a different department or swift from day shift to night shift. Maybe you could learn a new skill that would lead to other career opportunities in the future. These moves are never easy, but they can make a big change in your stress levels.

Put Yourself First

Your stress may not entirely be your own. It may be a combination of stress from other people that you feel connected to or responsible for. The most important lesson in stress management is to put yourself first. When you are in a good place mentally and emotionally, you are better equipped to help others. Putting your needs on the backburner will only add to your stress.

If you want personalized stress management solutions, call Perspectives Counseling Centers to learn about our therapy programs. We offer depression counseling, anxiety counseling, family counseling, couples counseling, and other services across several therapist offices in Michigan. Contact the location nearest to you to get started.

 

Tips for Maintaining a School Night Routine

tips-school-night-routine

In the first part of this guide, we discussed how to create a school night routine. Now we are going to focus on maintaining that routine and making it a consistent habit. Your children may be resistant at first, but they will ultimately feel better and perform better in school if they stick to a nightly schedule. Here are some tips for keeping up with your school night routine.

Follow through with the Rules You Make

If you tell your children to be in bed by 8 PM, stick to that. If you say 5 more minutes on a video game, mean it. If you allow your child to watch one episode of a show before bed, stop after that one episode. Following through with your rules establishes a clear set of expectations for your child. Saying no is hard the first few times, but it gets much easier when your child knows what’s expected of him or her.

Create a Nightly Checklist Your Child Understands

Children respond well to checklists. They can see the tasks that need to be completed, and they get instant gratification when they are checked off the list. If your child is old enough to read, you may be able to write this nightly checklist out in words. If not, use pictures to symbolize different tasks for the night – picking up toys, brushing teeth, reading a book, etc. Find a visual system that works for your child.

Set Alarms for Different Nighttime Tasks

If your child is old enough to have a phone, set alarms for different tasks each night. For example, you may have a warning alarm 10 minutes before the TV has to go off, then another when the TV must be turned off. You may have an alarm for nighttime medicine or for taking a bath. Alarms do not work for everyone, but they are good reminders for many children.

Avoid Using Rewards to Encourage Routines

You may be inclined to reward your child for sticking to the school night routine. However, doing so may send the wrong message. Completing daily hygiene routines and doing homework isn’t something that should be rewarded. That is just a natural part of growing older and gaining more responsibility. Encourage your child to abide by the rules, but don’t rely on rewards to achieve that. Your child needs to learn that sometimes, you just have to do things you’re not excited about.

Lead by Example

Your child watches your every move. If you have a nighttime routine, your child will mirror that. Of course, your routine doesn’t have to be the same as your child’s. You should try to live by some version of the same structure though. Leave your phone in another room for dinner, brush your teeth at a certain time, put work away during family time – do some of the things you are asking of your child. This will keep your family progressing as a unit.

For more parenting tips or to schedule an appointment with a family counselor near you, call Perspectives Counseling Centers.

 

Setting a School Night Routine | Family Counseling in Michigan

school-night-routine

Now that the school season has started, it’s time to get everyone on a routine. You may have spent the summers staying up late and sleeping in as a family, but the school year requires a bit more structure. Here are some tips for setting a school night routine, courtesy of our family counseling centers in Michigan.

Benefits of Having a School Night Routine

Before we describe the ideal school night routine, we want to explain why it’s important to have a routine in the first place. Children do best in structured environments. They learn the value of responsibility, and they gain a sense of independence. School night routines also improve academic performance because children wake up well-rested and ready to absorb new information. It only takes a week or so to get children in a routine. Stick with it, and you will see rewards from it.

General Guidelines for a School Night Routine

Every family is different, so you may need to adjust these steps to suit your needs. Here is a template for a successful school night routine:

  • Complete homework before dinner time. For older children, you may ask them to complete their homework before you get home from work, or you may designate homework times throughout the night based on their workloads. For younger children, you may allow them to eat a snack when they get home from school and then do their homework, if applicable.
  • Eat dinner around the same time every night. Not only will this help with consistency, but it will also aid in digestion. The body thrives on routine just as much as the mind does. If your children know they will eat around a certain time each night, they will feel full and energized all day long.
  • No technology at the dinner table. No phones, no tablets, no TVs. Reserve dinner time to talk about your days and interact with your children.
  • Designate a time for television and electronics. This will vary from family to family. For instance, you may watch certain shows or movies as a family after dinner. You may allow your children to play video games for 30-60 minutes after dinner. You may allow everyone in the family to have 45 minutes of social media time before spending time as a family. That is up to you.
  • Establish a bedtime routine. This should include cleaning/chores, showers/baths, brushing teeth, winding down for the night (perhaps with a book or 30-minute TV show), and a specific bed time.
  • Continue the routine into the morning. Set a time for your child to wake up in the morning, and schedule breakfast around the same time every day. Allot enough time for your child to wake up, get dressed, eat (if he or she is eating at home) and get to the bus stop (or other transportation arrangements).

Adjusting to Suit Your Family’s Needs

As we mentioned above, that schedule may not work for everyone. Feel free to make adjustments to fit your family. You might make one night a week completely free of technology, where you play board games or go for a walk as a family. You may need to vary the schedule for a shared custody arrangement. The goal is to keep your school night routine as repetitive as possible.

Try to Stay Consistent over the Weekend

Your weekend routines may be different than your school night routines, but the two should be complementary. You can let your children stay up later, but try not to adjust the timing too much. If you let your children do whatever they want over the weekend, it will be harder to get them back in the routine on Monday.

Continue to Part 2 where we discuss Tips for Maintaining a School Night Routine.

Father Complex: The Psychology behind ‘Daddy Issues’

father-complex

‘Daddy issues’ is a phrase readily used in today’s society. It is often ascribed to women who date older men or struggle in some element of their relationships. But what are daddy issues, really? What is the psychology behind a father complex, and how can someone work through these emotions? Let’s take a closer look at the father complex and why it is so prevalent today.

What Is a Father Complex?

In psychology, ‘daddy issues’ are described as a ‘father complex.’ A father complex develops when a person has a poor relationship with his or her father. The need for approval, support, love and understanding progresses into adulthood, and it may result in bad decisions with relationships.

How ‘Father Complex’ Became ‘Daddy Issues’

Originally, the phrase father complex was used to describe a man who had a distrusting relationship with his father. As psychologists explored the complex further though, they assigned the term to both genders. Somewhere along the way, society colloquialized ‘father complex’ into ‘daddy issues’ and eventually attached the phrase only to women. In psychology, we still use father complex in reference to both genders.

Women AND Men Can Have Father Complexes

As the term ‘daddy issues’ gained popularity, it became almost exclusively associated with women. However, both men and women can experience father complexes. Men with father complexes tend to struggle with approval and self-worth, while women tend to yearn for protection and validation. With that in mind, every father complex is unique, and it can manifest in any number of ways. The experience is as complex as the name suggests.

Overcoming a Father Complex through Therapy

The best way to overcome a father complex is through therapy. A therapist can help you understand the root cause of your emotions and behaviors, then work with you to find personalized solutions for them. Therapy is an adaptive process that covers a wide range of topics: depression treatment, anxiety treatment, grief therapy, self-esteem building, stress management, anger management, and much more. Your therapist can help you bring closure to past experiences and alter your current thought patterns. In the end, you will understand your mind better, and you will feel more in control of your actions.

If you would like to schedule a confidential counseling appointment, call Perspectives Counseling Centers. We have specialists in nearly every area of mental health care, and we will match you with the best therapist for your specific needs.