There are three main steps to successful potty training. The first of these three is to stop using diapers. For most kids, it’s easiest to go to the bathroom in their diaper, and so switching to underwear takes that option away. Some parents choose to keep a pull-up on their child overnight, which does not usually affect daytime potty training. If your child has an accident during the day, respond in a neutral manner and get them involved in the clean up process.
The second step is to develop a “sitting schedule.” A sitting schedule entails having your child sit at specified times of the day, everyday. This increases the likelihood that your child will have an opportunity to go potty in the potty. A good starting sitting schedule is to have your child sit on the potty after waking in the morning, after any naps, after each meal, and before bed. You can then add in additional times to sit if you notice your child tends to have accidents at certain times of the day. A good rule of thumb is to have a potty break every two hours or less. Sitting should last 5-10 minutes, or until your child goes to the bathroom.
The final component to potty training is reinforcement. At first, you want to reinforce sitting, even if your child does not actually urinate or defecate in the potty. The most effective way of doing this is to plan for a fun activity while your child is seated. It’s often best to have this activity be something your child doesn’t often get to do, like play with your phone, for instance. This fun activity has the added benefit of relaxing your child, which increases the chance they will go on the potty. You also want to reinforce your child when they urinate or defecate on the potty. For most kids, simple rewards, like a sticker chart or heavy praise and cheering from mom and dad is enough.
Carolyn Kessler, Ph.D., is a child psychologist with more than 10 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and their families on issues related to behavior management and parenting, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, developmental disabilities, and ADHD. Family training is a key component of her therapy. Dr. Kessler specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. She is a Codirector of Psychology Services at the New York University Child Study Center’s Institute for Pediatric Neuroscience and is in private practice in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where she provides assessment, treatment, and consultation to families and schools. In addition to standardized testing of IQ, achievement, memory, and behavior, her assessment skills include the use of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), an instrument on which Dr. Kessler trains other professionals, as well as the Autism Diagnostic Interview- Revised (ADI-R).
Acts of destruction – like popping a balloon, knocking over a sand castle at the beach or dumping a bucket of marbles onto a hard floor – often offer emotional release. Children are particularly interested in this kind of discharge and, to test this point, try offering a child a sheet of bubble wrap the next time you receive a package and listen to the popping and squealing begin! However, there are times when the feelings behind the act of destroying are far from pleasurable. Many know the emotional experience of dealing with a computer or phone that malfunctions and the desire to throw it out the window with all our might. What we might do, instead, is act out by slamming our fist onto the table or screaming into a pillow. Although I want to be careful not to completely glamorize the act of destruction, I do think it’s worth considering its value within a larger context.
Frequently, especially in Western culture, there is a tendency toward containing and even avoiding emotion. This is particularly true with less socially acceptable and uncomfortable emotions such as sadness, anger and frustration. What is often overlooked, however, is that emotions are and always have been an essential component to our overall evolution and that expression allows for additional possibilities to emerge and, ultimately, growth to occur. In addition, destruction or annihilation often allow for the possibility of reintegration and reconstruction.
Many who engage in creative activities understand this phenomenon because moving through a variety of emotions and expressing them non-verbally is central to the creative process. Creativity exists within us all, so the earlier children are encouraged to create and the more we adults create, the more acquainted we all will become with this essential practice.
Parents might consider having a few things at home that allow for the experience of destruction and reconstruction. Possibilities include a bin of blocks that can be easily dumped or water and sand tables where elements can transition from whole to fragments to whole again. Basically, loose materials or items that can be used in multiple ways are most desired. The theory of “loose parts” began influencing child-play experts and designers in the 1970′s by architect Simon Nicholson, who believed that loose parts in our environment encourage creativity. (For more information about Loose Parts, please visit: http://betterkidcare.psu.edu/TIPS/tips1107.pdf/.
Take, for example, the teenager who comes to therapy and regularly begins working on a piece of art, but then destroys. “It’s ugly”, she says as she, once again, smashes the clay piece she’s been shaping or rips up the paper that she’s spent the last 15 minutes drawing on. Rather than tell her to stop this expression, what if she was given the opportunity to take bins of old newspaper and rip them to shreds? Or take clay balls and whip them against a brick wall? But it doesn’t stop there. Those shredded newspaper pieces can be reintegrated by using them in a plaster sculpture and the clay balls against a brick wall becomes a mosaic synthesis of color, shape and effort. Again, in the act of destruction lies the opportunity for reconstruction. Without it, we deny ourselves the very material that weaves our experience together and becomes the transitional joints of life.
By practicing this over and over again, we tone the muscles that will serve us now and throughout our lives.
Jean Davis is a licensed creative arts therapist and a registered and board-certified art therapist. She has postgraduate training in group therapy, gestalt therapy and ecopsychology and has over 15 years of experience with a wide variety of populations and in numerous settings. Jean is an Adjunct Associate Professor within Pratt Institute’s Graduate Creative Arts Therapy Department. She has published numerous articles in professional journals and she presently serves on the editorial board for the Ecopsychology Journal. For more than a decade, she has maintained a private practice in Brooklyn, New York working with children and adults. To contact Jean Davis, please email email@example.com or call 917-292-9301.
Tags: acts of destruction, anger in children, avoiding emotion, Brooklyn Letters, brooklyn therapy children, creative activities, creative arts therapists in brooklyn, creative arts therapy, creative process, emotional release, encouraging creativity, experience of destruction, frustration in children, Jean Davis, non-verbal expression of emotion, park slope creative arts therapy, park slope therapy for children, reconstruction, reintegreation, sadness in children
Many of the families I am working with right now are preparing for one of the most significant milestones in the life of the adolescent—going away to college.
There are several stages of logistical, emotional and psychological preparation inherent in this transitional time, which begins with the college application process. What is notable from the perspective of many of the parents I work with today is how much more intense and rigorous it is for our teens than it was for ourselves ‘back in the day.’ Whether it’s high school juniors working their tails off for good grades, padding their transcripts with extra-curriculars, and working with tutors to obtain the SAT/ACT scores they need to apply to their colleges of choice, or seniors polishing their personal essays, completing their applications, and suffering the waiting game from submission to acceptance, the trials and tribulations of this process affects not only the adolescent, but the family as a whole.
What is important for parents to remain mindful of during this time is that the college process itself is the developmental equivalent of crossing the threshold from from adolescence to young adulthood. As such, the ways in which you support (“I think those are terrific choices of colleges! You go for it!”), encourage (“If you work a little harder, I bet you can get into that ‘reach’ school after all!”), and limit-set (“There is no way I am sending you to the ‘#1 Party School in America!’”) will not only guide your teen toward a positive college experience, but toward independence, self-reliance, and the ability to take responsibility for his actions — all critical skills for the young adult venturing out on his own.
So what does this mean for the emotional life of the parent-teen relationship? Expect the process to parallel earlier stages of adolescence—rebellion (“Just because you and dad want me to go to that college does NOT mean I have to want to go there!”), resistance (“What’s the big deal?! The deadline is not until tomorrow…!”), and fear (“Forget it. I’ll just stay home and work at McDonald’s!”). There will also be that characteristic tug and pull between their desire to be a child (“I don’t waaaaaant to learn how to do my own laundry.”), and a grownup (“Why shouldn’t I have my own credit card for college. I’m practically an adult!”). Sound familiar? If it does, just remember: Don’t give up on being a strong, loving, and consistent parent.
The college-bound teen will push your buttons, push the limits of authority and control, and then push herself right back into your lap when you least expect it. Be patient. Be clear and direct. Be ready for anything. And as ever, don’t take it personally when they express love and affection to their peers and save their temperamental and moody selves for you. This dynamic serves a purpose. First, it is a necessary training ground for them as they learn how and when to express uncomfortable feelings. It is in the ‘safety’ of their own homes where they can release said emotions without fear of rejection (like they might experience with their peers), and it is with the help of parental patience, support and guidance that they will learn to regulate and express their feelings appropriately. It is also developmentally appropriate as they continue their trajectory away from their families and toward their social and romantic relationships, which will be necessary for them to live satisfying adult lives.
Do let them know when they have crossed a line and hurt the feelings of others, but don’t belabor the point and make them feel responsible for your feelings. You can (and should!) talk to your therapist, your partner or your friends about that. Do trust that you are planting the seeds not only of independence, but also of respect for you and your parenting. Don’t expect immediate gratitude, but do look for the signs that they have internalized what you have taught them. Look for self-reliance, their ability to use dryer sheets, and the fact that they will probably call, text, email or Skype with you more in the first few months they are away than in their entire adolescent lives. Let that be your reward.
Good luck to you parents, to the graduating class of 2012, and to our future graduates who– as we speak– are making macaroni necklaces and pouring glitter in their hair.
Fara is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Park Slope where she specializes in working with children, adolescents, parents and families, coping with trauma, addictions, anxiety and depression. Utilizing both traditional psychotherapy and creative arts therapy in her work, she provides individual, couples and family counseling and has developed and implemented psychotherapy, psycho-education and creative arts therapy groups for children, adolescents and adults. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 917-359-3335.
Tags: adolescents, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Letters, college preparation, dealing with teenagers, difficult teenagers, family struggles, Fara Jones, Fara Jones M.A. LCSW Psychotherapist, parent-child relationship, parenting teenagers, parenting teens, Park Slope, psychological preparation, raising teenagers, relating to teenagers
AAC is used when speech is not an adequate means of functional communication. The “augmentative” refers to any devices, methods, or systems that are used in addition to speech. This can be necessary when someone’s speech is not clear due to low volume, low tone, or articulation errors, or when someone requires vocal rest. The “alternative” refers to any device, method, or system used for communication when speech has not developed or has been lost. Many devices or systems can be both. AAC devices are used by many individuals, including those with autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, dysarthria, aphasia.
Like our clients, AAC devices come in all shapes and sizes! Low or no-tech systems include the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), single cell switch devices (e.g. Big Red Switch, Jelly Beamer, Big Mac), or multi switch devices (e.g. Step-by-Step, Multi-Step Big Mac) or static communication devices (e.g. GoTalk devices). Hi-tech devices include Dynavox products (e.g. Tango, Maestro, V), Tobii software and devices, PRC Unity devices (e.g. ECO, Vantage Lite), and iPad applications (e.g. TouchChat, SceneSpeak, Look2Learn, Sonoflex, Proloquo2Go).
The aim of all of AAC devices is to increase functional communication. Whether this means requesting with one word for a desired item or commenting on your surroundings, AAC devices help individuals get their needs met and allow them to be participants in social situations.
EVERYONE is a candidate for AAC. There is no cognitive prerequisite, and accommodations can be made to all systems and devices.
Brooklyn Letters evaluates individuals to determine if there is a need for AAC, and which device or system would best suit that individual. Our specialists work with families to help individuals develop independence and work towards overcoming their particular difficulties. They are available to review, augment and implement assistive technology recommendations made as a result of an evaluation. They also conduct AAC therapy which works on familiarizing clients with their AAC device or system, and provide communicative partner training to ensure generalization. In addition, they are available to consult with schools about adapting curriculum, integrating assistive technology, and training teaching staff on how to work with assistive technology tools.
Tags: AAC, AAC device, alternative therapy, Augmentative and Alternative Therapy, augmentative therapy, Brooklyn Letters, functional communication, Jules Csillag, speech therapy, speech therapy devices
When a child has experienced a significant loss, such as the death of a parent, grandparent or other close family member, that child’s caregiver has a significant responsibility in helping the child to mourn in a healthy way. In my last essay, I wrote about some strategies that parents or caregivers can use with their children in the midst and immediate aftermath of this kind of family loss.
Grieving, however, is not a quick process, and children need support over time to help them process and adjust to a death. Grieving cannot be completed in a healthy way unless the child has space to express his or her feelings about their loss, and for many children that self-expression happens through imaginative play.
Several years ago, before I started incorporating play materials into my practice, I provided the children that I worked with in therapy with musical instruments only. Over time, I discovered that I would be a play therapist whether I wanted to be one or not — all of my small percussion instruments quickly became characters in the various dramatic enactments that my child clients created. One time, a six-year- old child lined up every small percussion instrument in my office — maracas, jingle bells, egg shakers, mallets, etc. — behind a box-shaped drum called a slit drum and announced that this was the funeral procession that was leading up to the burial of the red maraca’s father. I assisted him, per his instruction, in moving the procession of guests toward the imaginary cemetery, located under the piano bench.
This child was working on his feelings about his own father’s death in a very direct, concrete way, but a child’s means of working through feelings of grief through play can be variable, depending on the types of feelings that the child is coping with inside. Caregivers might also witness anger or aggression in a child’s play, where the characters will yell or behave violently toward each other. Play is the way that children express what is happening in their psyche. Often it is a good idea to find a play therapist to help your child work through their feelings with play.
If, as a parent or caregiver, there are opportunities to observe a child at play, healing and restorative themes can also be witnessed. I once worked with a seven-year- old girl whose mother had died in the hospital. When I arrived at her home for our visit, she had gathered every single doll she owned around the bed and explained to me that this was a hospital, and each of these children were here to be treated. She listed their diagnoses one by one, ranging from a broken arm to cancer (the disease that had killed her mother). She then told me that one of those dolls wanted to sing a lullaby to another, and asked me to play the guitar. She began to improvise words and a melody, speaking through the dolls (and, metaphorically, to herself) about why it was going to be okay and how she could be soothed.
A very important task of grieving, once the myriad feelings have been expressed and worked on through therapy, play, the arts, or all three, is to relocate the deceased person and find a way to establish a new relationship with him or her. For many adults and children alike, this means finding ways to connect to memories and feel a sense of the deceased person’s presence. Often we find that connection in religious institutions or at a burial or memorial site, but it is helpful to have other ways to remember and connect to that important person. A variety of art projects or ways of connecting to nature can help children to memorialize the person they have lost, and the final product can be kept as a keepsake and memory of that person’s love.
As a closing thought, it is important for parents and caregivers to remember that a child’s experience of grief can be an ongoing process that changes over time. In addition to changes in intensity as certain feeling states or life adjustments are worked through, a child will be faced with the task of renegotiating the meaning of his or her loss again and again as he or she grows and must address the impact of missing the important person during important life milestones. Imagine, for instance, a ten-year-old who loses her mother. Even if that child completed a healthy grieving process in the couple of years immediately following her mother’s death, she will doubtless revisit its meaning and the corresponding pain when she reaches major life milestones such as puberty, her first romantic attachment, graduation from high school, etc.
Loss is a part of life that is always difficult, but with attention and attunement it is possible for parents and caregivers to make a child’s grieving process one that is ultimately meaningful and healing.
Meghan is a licensed creative arts therapist and a board-certified music therapist with over ten years of experience working with children, adolescents and adults. At her private practice in Brooklyn, she incorporates Depth Psychology, Vocal Psychotherapy and In-Depth Music Therapy to work with children and adults struggling with loss in their lives and with those who are looking for a creative way to understand themselves. Her style of therapy is client-led, and focuses on self- expression through music and/or the creative process. She can be reached at: email@example.com or by phone at 646-450-1644. Learn more about music psychotherapy at http://MeghanHinman.com
Tags: abandonment, anger, anxiety, bereaved children, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Letters, child's grieving process, children and grieving, cognitive development, continuity, coping with death, creative arts therapist, death in the family, emotional development, emotional loss, funerals, grief counselors, grieving rituals, guilt, healing grief, LCAT, licensed creative arts therapist, MA, Megan Hinman Music and Play Therapist, Meghan Hinman, MT-BC, Music Therapy, nurturance, peer pressure, play therapy, relating to loss, sadness, stages of grief, support, surviving parent, talking to children about death
Subscribe with RSS