Category Archives: Children Counseling

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.

Barbie: An Unexpected Spokesperson for Children’s Mental Health

barbie-mental-health

Barbie once represented the “perfect” female figure, with unrealistic body proportions that made young girls hate what they saw in the mirror. Over the last decade though, Mattel has completely transformed Barbie’s image to showcase beauty in all shapes and sizes. They came out with a line of curvy Barbie dolls, and they have striven to make Barbie an all-inclusive brand.

Now Barbie has taken on a new role as a spokesperson for children’s mental health. The Barbie YouTube channel, which has nearly 5 million subscribers, includes an array of videos that discuss depression, anger, low self-esteem, and more. Children and parents alike are starting to take notice of the subtle words of wisdom embedded into Barbie’s videos, and the mental healthcare community is fully here to support it.

Life Lessons from Barbie’s Vlog Channel

Barbie’s vlogs are designed to look like an actual person talking to a camera. It’s a format that children expect from their favorite YouTubers, like they’re having a conversation with a friend. While many of these videos are lighthearted, some talk about important mental health issues that people face at every age. Some examples include:

  • Sorry Reflex: Barbie talks about how people, particularly girls, often apologize for matters that aren’t their fault. She explains how to reframe “sorry” as “thank you,” helping empower young women in their daily lives.
  • Feeling Blue? You’re not alone: Barbie discusses how she feels sad at times for no apparent reason, and that everyone experiences that in some way. She then goes on to describe some ways she relieves sadness, such as journaling, meditation, and talking to other people – tasks we often discuss in depression counseling. She also explains that it is okay to feel sad, and that it’s nothing to feel guilty about.
  • Power and Empowerment: This vlog is all about “going high when they go low.” Barbie tells a story about her sister getting picked on in class. When she ignored the bully, the bullying stopped. But when the bully gets cast aside by her peers, the sister decides to befriend her, rather than joining the crowd. She encourages viewers to spread positivity and empowerment, even when it does not seem like the easy thing to do.
  • I’m So Cranky: Barbie explains that she’s having a “cranky day” because she didn’t get much sleep last night. Then she talks about ways to get through this type of day, including breathing exercises, listening to music, and some self-reassurance.
  • The Empathy Challenge: This video is mainly a baby food taste test, but at the end, Barbie challenges her viewers to think before they get angry. “Think about how they’re feeling…Put yourself in their shoes.”

Even in a vlog that’s silly in nature, Barbie incorporates small mental health tips for her viewers. Mattel is using their platform to help people of all ages feel better about themselves and their circumstances.

It’s Not Just for Young Girls – It’s for Everyone

Perhaps the best part of Barbie’s vlog channel is that the lessons within apply to everyone. We all have days where we feel sad, cranky, guilty, etc., and we all have our own coping mechanisms for those experiences. Barbie helps young girls feel like they aren’t alone, and adults resonate with the positive encouragement within the videos. There is something in the videos for everybody.

Other Ways to Help a Child’s Mental Health

If your child is struggling in school, being bullied, feeling down about their body, or simply unhappy with life at the moment, there are solutions available. Child counseling is a personalized experience where a professional child works with your child one-on-one. In this process, your child can overcome challenges and learn how to cope with different emotions he or she may be facing. You can also learn how to communicate effectively with your child and resolve conflicts within the family.

If you are interested in child counseling in Michigan, contact Perspectives Counseling Centers. We have several locations to assist you, and we will match you with the best therapist for your needs.

How to Monitor Your Child’s Online Activity (Part 2)

online-activity

Continued from Part 1

Watch Your Child’s Social Media Activity

This is a topic that receives some controversy. Some parents believe it is important for children to have their privacy. This allows them to form independent opinions and feel a sense of responsibility. However, that privilege should only be available when a child is truly ready. It may take years of monitored social media activity for a child to understand the responsibility that comes with using the internet.

If your child has a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account, know the login information. Have the accounts linked to your email address so you can get into them no matter what. Check your child’s messages and talk to them about any suspicious activity you notice. If your child has a phone, you may also need to do this with SnapChat and other communication apps.

Limit Your Child’s Time Online

It’s much easier to monitor your child’s online activity when it only occurs during a certain frame of time. You may let your child online for a short period of time after school or before bed, depending on how old he or she is. If your child as a cell phone, you may have him or her leave the phone with you overnight. You can also turn off the internet after a certain time period so you know your child is not online. Set guidelines that suit your family.

Lead by Example – Show Your Child What You Do Online (and When)

Show your child the right way to use the internet. Avoid being on your phone or tablet during family time. If you are online, let your child see what you are doing when possible. Children mimic what they see – the good and the bad. If you maintain a healthy relationship with the internet, your child is more likely to do the same.

Communicate as a Family

If you saw something funny online that’s kid-friendly, share it with your kids. Show them that you have nothing to hide about your time online. If they want to show you a video that they found entertaining, pay attention. This encourages your children to remain open about their online activity. If someone they do not know contacts them, they are more likely to tell you about it.

We encourage open communication for all family matters. If you need help building communication skills in your household, consider family counseling. Perspectives Counseling Centers offers family counseling in Michigan, with specialized counseling for teens, kids and adults. No matter what your family dynamic is, you can have a strong relationship with every family member. Call (248) 244-8644 to schedule an appointment with a family counselor near you.

 

How to Monitor Your Child’s Online Activity

child-online-activity

Children are born with technology at their fingertips. They learn how to use computers, smartphones and tablets at a very early age, preparing them for life in the modern world. This constant access to the internet comes with consequences though. Children may be exposed to inappropriate content or improper influences just by browsing online.

In this guide from Perspectives Counseling Centers, we’ll help you monitor your child’s online activity so you can ensure his or her safety.

Why It’s Important to Be Informed

The internet seems harmless at first glance, but even seemingly innocent platforms have dangerous information on them. For instance, there are many inappropriate YouTube videos that target children, even though they contain sexual and violent graphics. The titles and thumbnails look like kid-friendly content, but a closer look at the videos shows images you may not want your children to see.

Child predators often use social media platforms to talk to children. Websites that start out as innocent may have ads that lead children down a dangerous rabbit hole. Simply put, the internet gives your child access to a world of information he or she may not be old enough for. Parents have to take action to limit and control that access.

Use Parental Controls Where Applicable

One of the easiest ways to block children from inappropriate content is to use parental controls. You can use parental control apps and web browser extensions, or you could set parental controls within a website. For instance, Netflix, Hulu and YouTube have kids accounts that only feature child-friendly content. If your child is allowed to visit these websites, you can make sure he or she only navigates that section of the site. The types of parental controls you use will depend on the device your child uses and how he or she accesses the web.

Talk to Your Child about the Internet

Children must be taught to use the internet properly, just like they must be taught to read or put on clothes. If your child needs help researching for school or using the computer in some manner, do what you can to assist him or her. It is better for you to teach your child than for him or her to start looking around alone.

When you feel that your child is old enough, talk to him or her about predators and other dangers on the internet. This is just like preparing your child for peer pressure or bullying at school. You hope your child never faces those issues, but if so, it’s best to be informed.

Continue to Part 2

Pros And Cons Of Online Schooling For Anxious Children (Part 2): Anxiety Therapy MI

child anxiety

Continued from Part 1

PRO: Personalized Education

Children with anxiety may have different learning requirements than other students. The same can be said for children with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, and more. Online schooling allows each student to get a personalized curriculum that is tailored to his or her needs. If a certain subject sparks anxiety from stress, the student can take a longer time on that work to reduce the anxiety symptoms. The class schedule is adjusted to fit the child, which may help a child with anxiety get better grades and feel more confident in school.

CON: A Lack Of Independence

Sometimes the lack of social interaction from online learning will cause a child to get extremely attached to the stay-at-home parent. Children who go to a traditional school learn independence from their time with other students. They may take on leadership roles in the classroom or find a club they excel in. This is hard to do at home. A boost of confidence may help a child with anxiety learn to overcome some of their fears and phobias.

If your child is enrolled in an anxiety counseling program like the ones we offer at Perspectives Of Troy Counseling Centers in Michigan, you can learn how to encourage independence within the family. Find hobbies that your child likes to do on his own so you can establish healthy boundaries and relationship dynamics. The anxiety counselor will be there to help every step of the way.

PRO: Creative Learning Opportunities

Because of the personalization that comes with online learning, parents have a chance to find creative ways to educate their kids. They are not limited to the rigid structure of a classroom, so they can find what works best for their child’s learning abilities. With that said, it is important for children to learn in a traditional way so they can adapt to teaching methods as adults.

CON: Difficulty Finding Personal Interests

One of the great benefits to traditional schooling is that children have a chance to experiment with interests and activities. They can attend music class, art class, computer class, physical education and more. They also have access to clubs within the school which may tap into an interest they haven’t discovered. That is difficult to replicate in a house. Working with a homeschool group like we mentioned in Part 1 of this guide will give your child more opportunities to find his or her true passions in life.

PRO: Reduced Performance Pressure

Online schooling still has the same general requirements as traditional schooling, but the pressure feels less intense. A child doesn’t have to constantly worry about getting better grades than his classmates or finishing a test on time. The process is much more carefree. There are still strict testing schedules that children must follow, but as a whole, most homeschooled children feel at ease with their curriculum.

CON: Self-Motivation

Self-motivation is a great trait to have. However, when it comes to online learning, a child is forced to constantly push himself or herself to do school work. At school, there is a thin veil of pressure over all the students to compete with their classmates to succeed. At home, the situation is much more relaxed. Older children in particular may become complacent with their “easy” schedule in an online school, which may hurt their productivity levels in the future. You, the parent, must strive to keep your child motivated in school so his or her academic performance does not suffer.

For more help with childhood anxiety, contact Perspectives Of Troy Counseling Centers today.

Pros And Cons Of Online Schooling For Anxious Children: Anxiety Therapy MI

online schooling

Online schooling was once reserved for college-level students, but it is becoming increasingly common for school-aged children as well. Children with anxiety may thrive in online schooling because they can complete their education at home without the pressure of a classroom. With that in mind, web-based instruction isn’t ideal for everyone. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of online schooling for anxious children.

PRO: Learning In A Controlled Environment

Schools try to be as structured as possible, but it’s hard for a teacher to control 20 kids at once. A child with anxiety may be overwhelmed by the constant hustle and bustle of traditional classes. With online schooling, education happens at home. The student is in a highly controlled environment that is tailored to his or her needs. This is a form of personalized training that cannot be replicated in an actual classroom.

CON: Limited Social Interaction

A child who learns online will not have the same amount of exposure to social settings as a child in school. This may hurt the child later on when he or she has to get a job, form personal relationships, and live in the “real world.” Children learn social ques from their peers. They learn the difference between mean and nice, how to read body language, how to avoid confrontations, and what to do around different personality types. Online learning does not provide a place to do that.

A good way to get around this is to sign up with a homeschool group. The group does extracurricular activities much like a school would, but it consists of people who homeschool their children. Parents can support one another and talk about their online schooling experiences, and children get a chance to make friends with other people their age. Most cities have homeschooling groups, and you can find them on social media or through local schools.

PRO: Minimal Anxiety Triggers

Since the house is a controlled environment, your child will have a limited number of anxiety triggers to deal with. This reduces the frequency and severity of anxiety attacks and keeps the child calm as a whole. If you work with an anxiety therapist like one of the ones at Perspectives Of Troy Counseling Centers in Michigan, you can learn exactly how to set up your child’s environment to keep it anxiety-friendly.

CON: Minimal Anxiety Triggers (Again)

While it is nice to know that your child is not constantly feeling anxious, a lack of anxiety triggers isn’t always a good thing. The best way to learn how to deal with anxiety, depression and other emotions is to face them in small doses. Your child’s anxiety counselor can help your child identify and overcome triggers as they arise. Without any exposure to those triggers though, that knowledge may never be put to the test.

Whether your child goes to school online or in a traditional classroom setting, he or she needs to have a definitive way to conquer feelings of anxiety. This is where anxiety counseling comes in. Your child will learn the exact tools and techniques necessary to handle various scenarios as they arise. We have several child anxiety specialists in our Michigan counseling centers who would be happy to work with your family.

Continue to Part 2

First Day Of School Prep For Anxious Children: Child Anxiety Counseling MI

school prep

The first day of school is scary for everyone, especially children with anxiety. Anxious children often need to be familiar with their surroundings in order to feel safe and calm. Getting thrown into the first day of school is the opposite of “familiar,” but there are some things you can do to make the process easier. Here are some school prep tips for children with anxiety, courtesy of our child anxiety counseling center in Michigan.

Tour The School Ahead Of Time

Most schools will have multiple opportunities for parents and students to tour the facility before the first day. Open houses, “meet the teacher” days, enrollment, orientation, and other events provide you with a chance to take your child to school to get familiar with the rooms. Walk with your child to each of his or her classes. Find a path from each of those classes to the child’s locker, and go over that path several times. Ideally, you should make a couple visits to the school to ensure that your child remembers where the classes are, where his or her locker is, what the locker combination is, and where important parts of the school are (gym, cafeteria, etc.). You may get a few eye rolls from your child, but this prep work will make a big difference when school starts.

Get Into A School-Like Routine A Couple Weeks Before

Create a school-like schedule for your child before school actually starts. This will include a set bed time, wake up time, get ready time, etc. You should plan out meals as close to their school times as possible. If your child normally gets play time after school, you could set that up before school starts. The goal here is to get your child into a routine so the first day of school feels natural. Routines are very important for children with anxiety.

Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute To Buy School Supplies

If you wait until the last minute to buy school supplies, you may not be able to find everything you need before the first day. This means that your child will either show up to school empty-handed, or he or she will have to tell the teacher about the missing supplies. This is a lot of pressure for a child with anxiety.

Of course, some instances like this are unavoidable. If you cannot get all of your child’s school supplies in advance, contact the teacher(s) about the issue. See if there are any alternative supplies you can buy or if there will be ones available at the school. Taking this pressure off your child will once again allow him to focus on school itself.

Ask Your Child What He’s Most Nervous About – And Reassure Him Along The Way

Talk to your child before the first day of school to find out what he is most anxious about. Once you know his fears, you can work on conquering them before school starts. For instance, if your child is worried about not having any friends at school, you could try to meet some other parents during the open house or parent teacher night. You could also encourage your child to play with other kids in the neighborhood around his age so he sees familiar faces in the halls.

There is always a way to combat a child’s anxiety. You just have to find it. By working with one of our child anxiety counselors in Michigan, you can learn unique techniques to reduce your child’s anxiety symptoms. Contact Perspectives Of Troy Counseling Centers to learn more.

Using Summer Reading For ADHD Treatment: MI ADHD Counseling

reading adhd treatment

School’s out, but that doesn’t mean your child’s learning has to stop. The summer is a great time to work on subjects your child may have struggled with. For children with ADHD, one of the biggest challenges is reading. Their short attention spans and inability to focus make it difficult to read more than a few sentences on a page.

In this guide, we will help you set up a summer reading program for ADHD treatment so your child is ready for the upcoming school year.

Make Books A Prominent Part Of Your Home

There are plenty of ways to get books for your child. You could buy them from a used book store or check them out for free at the library. You could also talk to other parents about sharing books over the summer, which you could exchange during play dates. The goal here is to make books seem like a normal part of the day – they’re always around and they’re always accessible. This plants the seed that reading is a “normal” activity and may encourage your child to start reading on his or her own.

Create A Family Reading Schedule

Reading should be part of family time. Instead of watching three shows at the end of the night, watch two and spend the remaining time reading a book together. If your child is nervous about reading in front of you, alternate who reads what. For instance, you may read a page and have your child read the next page. If your child is reading chapter books, you may read a chapter and have him read a chapter. You could also plan for 1-2 chapters a night and alternate who reads each night.

The possibilities are endless. By staying involved with your child’s reading, you make the process seem less like learning and more like fun. If you can maintain a positive attitude toward reading during the school year, your child will be set for success.

Set A Good Example – Read In Front Of Your Kids

Children want to follow in their parents’ footsteps. If they see you reading, they will naturally want to read more. Look over the morning newspaper or read a book at night before bed. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy it!

Avoid Electronic Reading Devices

You can read books on tablets, e-readers and smartphones, but that is not ideal for ADHD treatment. The screens on electronic devices reduce a child’s ability to focus, even if they are reading an e-book. Encourage your child to read physical books as much as possible. You could make a weekly trip to the library to pick out a new set of books. It’s a fun activity for the whole family.

Talk To Your ADHD Counselor

Your child’s ADHD counselor may have even more tips and tricks for you. Your counselor understands your child’s unique symptoms and personality. He or she can help you make a plan for your child’s summer reading program. Relax and have fun over the next few months, but don’t forget to add a little education into the mix. It will do wonders for your child when the fall comes.

 

Do Fidget Spinners Help ADHD? ADHD Treatment In Michigan

fidget spinner adhd

Fidget spinners are the hottest new toy to hit the market. Stores and manufacturers alike are promoting these devices as tools for ADHD treatment, autism treatment, anxiety treatment, and much more. The question is: do they actually work? Will fidget spinners reduce ADHD symptoms and improve your ability to focus?

There Is NO Scientific Evidence To Support These Claims

At this time, there is no scientific research to suggest that fidget spinners help ADHD, autism or anxiety. This is not to say that there are no benefits. There just isn’t evidence at this time to support that claim. The companies marketing fidget spinners as ADHD treatment devices are not accurately representing their product based on the research available today.

Fidget Spinners May Make ADHD Symptoms Worse

Some patients say they feel calm with fidget spinners in their hand. This is similar to a person using a stress ball to take their mind off a situation. However, most fidget spinners are noisy. They create a whirring sound that can be highly distracting, either for the person using the spinner or someone else in the room. If a spinner is moving around someone who has ADHD, that person may lose focus on their current tasks or conversations. In other words, someone else’s fidget spinner could be a big distraction for an ADHD sufferer.

No One Knows The Long-Term Effects Of Fidget Spinners

Because there are no scientific studies on fidget spinners, there is no way to tell how effective or harmful they are in the long term. Someone who uses their spinner multiple times a day could turn this into a habit: a potentially unproductive one. Nail biting, chewing on pencils, clicking pens – these are all bad habits that people use to calm their nerves. Fidget spinners may fall into this same category over time.

Get Tested And Proven ADHD Treatment

You don’t have to fall for the latest fad. There are plenty of effective ADHD treatments that have been clinically tested over time. Our ADHD treatment center in Michigan has helped hundreds of people overcome their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Each person has a unique set of circumstances, which means that your treatment program may be different than someone else’s. We will create a custom ADHD therapy program specifically for your symptoms and lifestyle.

Contact Perspectives Of Troy Counseling Centers in Michigan to learn more.