Paint The Stars Art Therapy, LLC

the Healing powers of creativity for children, teens and parents

Star-Tip for Sibling Rivalry

Star-Tip for Sibling Rivalry: Having one or more #child can be a blessing. Having one or more child can be exhausting! Especially when those children are #fighting. #Siblings are going to fight, this is inevitable and all part of normal functioning within a #family. Sometimes that “fighting” can reach levels which are unhealthy for the whole family. Put on your parent detective hats and be careful. Are they fighting for your #attention? Did your older child become more resistant and #oppositional as other children entered the household? It is hard to learn how to share a parent. I recommend having “special time” with each child. It should be the child’s choice so long as it’s not breaking the bank. Anything from an hour to an entire day is great! Does your child have an extra special toy that they view as more of a security blanket? Try not to force that child to share that toy with a sib especially if they are generally good at sharing. We try to impart the what’s mine is yours rule in our families but think of it as an adult; aren’t there items that are just yours that your child or spouse cannot use? That’s okay. Point out when one sibling does something nice for another sibling. Talk often about how special it is to have a brother or sister. If one or more child continues to be resistant and the fighting is getting worse as opposed to better look into individual counseling. Sometimes learning how to cope with a sibling is something best left to a professional. #siblingrivalry #parenting #family

Star-Tip for Nightmares

#Nightmares are common in #children of all ages regardless of trauma occurrences. Most obvious sign of nightmares is your child either waking you intentionally or by accident after having a bad dream. Other signs can include increase in fatigue and energy during the day, fighting more at bedtime, increase or change in nighttime bathroom habits such as wetting the bed with no prior incidences. As with many issues the above signs do not always mean your child is having nightmares. It is best to check with your physician or your child’s therapist to be certain. If your child has a nightmare do not invite them to stay the night in your room or worse in your bed. Stay with them in their room and help them make their room a happy and safe place again. Night-lights are always helpful but other possible ways to relieve their stress is to do a walk through of their room: check under the bed, in the closet, out the window, etc. Read a comforting story or sing a happy song to help them #relax. If your child requests you to stay with them try and sit in a chair close to the bed. By sleeping next to them or allowing them to sleep with you, you are only allowing their insecurities to increase and they will then become heavily reliant on your presence in order to deal with #stress. Sometimes it is helpful the day after to draw their nightmare or bad dream. I often do this exercise and I allow the child to change the monster or “bad guy” into something funny or silly. This is helpful for future bad dreams, “Remember how silly your monster looked in that purple hat and pink slippers we drew on him?” Recurring bad dreams can become problematic; remember to always reach out to your local #therapist with questions or concerns. #parents #sleep

Star-tip for Blended Families:

 A blended #family is a blessing just like any other family. As a therapist working with #children and #families I see many different types of “families.” Some include: combinations of two families after a new #marriage, #adoption of a new child, a boyfriend/girlfriend moving in, the loss of a family member, etc. It is important to teach a child that no matter what changes the family goes through you will always remain a family and the love is always there. Keep in mind that different phrases or wording can create #tension or effect #self-esteem. For example, referring to one child as daughter and another as step-daughter. Try to be consistent with terms. One suggestion is to hold family meetings and decide as a unit how new or all family members will be referred: step mom versus mom, mommy versus Mom Jen, etc. You never know how one child might feel about calling someone new “mom” whereas another child may react in a completely different way. Let your child’s voice be heard and respect their wishes if appropriate. Once you work out the kinks the family unit is more whole and you will benefit from this as you continue on.  #familytherapy #blendedfamilies #counseling #parents

Parents Just Don’t Understand — But Your Neighborly Therapist Does

Working with teens is a daunting task for some people. One can only imagine (or perhaps live through) what living with teens is like on a regular basis. As a therapist working with this population I often find that teens are quickly judged, misunderstood and pushed into things they don’t agree with, all due to their age. I, personally, adore working with this population. Being a teen is one of the most difficult periods in our growing lives for some, but with a little outsider understanding you can really begin to see the true form of that angst’y teen:scared, lonely and sometimes a little crazy—but in a good way.

Over the past decade I have noticed certain themes that arise in the teen/parent relationship. Below are observations and tips for both teens and parents:

1) Parents do not understand teens. To be clear, this is not my opinion nor is it a proven fact but it is the consensus among the 14- to18-year-old crowd. I hear the typical “I hate them” or “They just don’t get it” all of the time. Well, young and opinionated teen, your parents’ job isn’t to always understand, it is to parent you!

2) As a therapist I can impart advice or “wisdom” that a parent may have already stated 50 times before and yet coming from me—a relative stranger—it is understood. Coming from the parent it is dismissed and usually pretty quickly too. Teens will always see parental advice as what the parent wants for the teen, not necessarily what is best. Parents, you may know this is not the case but how much time do you really want to devote to trying to convince them of this? Any parent who has tried to convince a teen of anything other than their own beliefs knows what I’m saying.

3) Parents need reminding of what it was like to be X-teen years old and also of just how often they really wanted to listen to their parents! Be honest now, you thought your parents were wrong and often did the exact opposite of what they asked of you. This pattern is not new, but as adults we sometimes lose track of our previous thought processes. Sometimes parents even think, “But I’m different. I’m not like my mom and dad.” True, you may have changed with the times a bit but your teen still has teen-mentality of who you are as a parent and why they can’t go along with any advice you dispense. The horror! Agree with my parents? Never!

Finding a Happy Medium

I do believe ALL teens benefit from therapy. Sometimes there are things teens don’t want to talk to a parent about; sometimes these are things they wouldn’t even tell their best friend about. But then there is the therapist. That person who says they do not judge no matter what; the person who keeps quiet unless someone is in danger; the one who helps a teen work through issues on their own. (Visualize this concept: making decisions and changing things to better yourself—as a teen!) And that is the shining beacon of hope for everyone.

Fear not, parents! As any good therapist will tell you, if there is something you NEED to know, you will be told. But if all seems well and “normal” in the life of your teen (according to a professional that is) then start to accept they will confide in you when they are ready. If they don’t confide in you do not be insulted. Instead, embrace the fact and be happy that they are talking about it with a professional. Remain their parent; you can’t and shouldn’t be both!. Teen and parent anxiety, depression and anger are often increased by lack of privacy at home and lack of choice when it comes to communication. Stress is relieved for everyone with the addition of a little outside help.

Oh, and parents, your teen may just thank you for suggesting that outside help. Imagine that!

#anxiety #depression #anger #teens #parents #therapy #arttherapy #communication #stress

Star-Tip for Separation Anxiety

Star-tip for #Separation #Anxiety: #children can develop separation anxiety at any age. Certain situations can bring on this type of anxiety or a child’s own thoughts can be the culprit as well. If you start to notice that your child has a difficult time separating try preparing them in advance for where everyone is going and allow time for questions. Most children will want to know when you will be returning. For younger children phrases like “soon” or “in a little while” are helpful whereas older children who understand the concept of time would do well with an approximation. It is also helpful for parents to give some cushion time when prepping to separate. These extra few minutes with no signs of rushing can naturally alleviate anxiety for a child. The more stressed you become about the situation the higher their anxiety can climb. Even having a “parent/child goodbye routine”, something you do at EVERY separation, can be calming and can help a child adjust to you leaving and returning. If you find that your child’s #anxiety worsens please contact a #therapist for additional help; anxiety, when recognized early on, can be changed with proper interventions. #parents #caregivers

#Teen #anger is always best handled by letting it out appropriately. Never keep it in.

#Teen #anger is always best handled by letting it out appropriately. Never keep it in.

Star-tip for Recognizing Self-Injurious Behaviors

Star-tip for Recognizing Self-Injurious Behaviors: ‪#‎Selfharm‬, or informally known as “‪#‎cutting‬" or "burning," are behaviors that‪#‎children‬ and ‪#‎adolescents‬ (adults as well) gravitate to when they are feeling emotionally overwhelmed or at times feeling “‪#‎numb‬.” Try and take note of any new behaviors, like wearing long sleeved shirts regardless of temperature (arms and wrists are common areas used but hips, legs, and abdomen are also used) or kids throwing out their own garbage (hiding of bloody tissues, bandages, etc.) can be two possible warning signs of self-harm. It is most important to notice changes in‪#‎moods‬ and overall demeanor. Those engaging in these acts want to be alone and sometimes can develop a pattern like having to ‪#‎cut‬ every night before bed or when they get home from school. If you notice your child likes to be alone at a certain time several times a week you may want to question their reasoning. Take note of how your child reacts to sudden OR expected ‪#‎stress‬. Remember to be genuine when questioning. If you come across as accusatory or punitive you are unlikely to get the ‪#‎truth‬‪#‎Parents‬ may also want to recruit the help of an outside party such as a ‪#‎therapist‬ or ‪#‎doctor‬ specifically if you believe your child will not be honest with you. #Selfharm is an increasing issue among kids and should always be taken seriously; stating that it is “attention-seeking” will not help them or the issue at hand.

Music as a Way to Heal

The power of #music: As an art therapist I believe in all forms of #art as a way to #communicate, expel #emotions, worth through issues and just #create. Working with #teens I have found that they share an intimate #connection with music—who doesn’t? Be it the lyrics, a favorite artist they can relate to or the sounds that mirror their own emotions. Recently I asked a young lady to change lyrics to a song to show how she was coping with her parents divorce. Below are a few snip it’s of her lyrics and the ukulele she is creating to go with it. #arttherapy

Star-Tip for Bullying

Star-tip for Bullying: Be sure to take some time and teach your#children what #bullying is. Be pro-active and do this before any issues even come up. Many children may associate “bullying” with physical harm rather than emotional harm. It is also possible that many children do not know when they are being bullied and others have difficulty recognizing when THEY are bullying someone else. I try and explain to all kids that bullying can be when someone else makes you feel bad in what they say or do. No one has the right to make you feel bad! When applying this lesson it is also good to teach your children the differences between being #passive vs being #assertive. This is a great time to come up with different scenarios and role play. To add some#creativity try creating hand puppets or sock puppets and run through examples of bullying, being passive and being assertive. If your child has exhibited signs of being a bully, it is best to talk to them about it right away. Put them in the “bullied” shoes, help them understand their ways, most children can rectify these behaviors before they escalate.

If you believe your child has been bullied or is a bully you may want to reach out to a #professional to help with improving#selfesteem and/or correcting negative attention seeking#behaviors#parents #prevention