Lamplight Counseling Services https://www.lamplightcounseling.net Lighting the Path to Hope Sun, 21 Jun 2020 18:55:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/1894-2/ Sun, 21 Jun 2020 18:55:36 +0000 https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/?p=1894 Events like running and yoga are now centered around the availability of alcohol. Recipes for drinks cover all three meals, and every occasion in-between. The fact is it's hard to picture our lives without drinking.

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The Culture of Drinking

People drink to have fun, relax, and celebrate. References to alcohol go all the way back to the time of the Egyptians, and even appear in the bible. Today billboards, commercials, on the sides of trucks, television shows and movies all depict good friends and great drinks. Events like running and yoga are now centered around the availability of alcohol. Recipes for drinks cover all three meals, and every occasion in-between. The fact is it’s hard to picture our lives without drinking.

The reality is though, alcohol is not necessary for life. All through history, humanity has tried to figure out alcohol’s mysterious hold on us. Tons of research has been done to try and figure out the pattern as to how it affects someone. Depending on a variety of factors you may or may not have – or develop – a drinking problem.

  • How often do you drink?
  • What do you drink?
  • How much do you drink?
  • Are you genetically predisposed to problems other people don’t have to deal with when they drink?
  • Do other people have a problem with you when you drink?

Impacts of Drinking

With the worldwide culture around alcohol it can be hard to find a reason NOT to drink. But more and more research shows alcohol contributes to more problems than it solves. Why would you choose not drink? Well, drinking contributes to:

  • Decreased kidney and liver function
  • Heart problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Abnormal estrogen and testosterone levels
  • Weight gain
  • Changes to Serotonin, GABA, Glutamate, and Dopamine levels
  • Slows digestion
  • Increases fat store retention

…and a host of other difficulties.

Is it a Problem?

But I don’t have a drinking problem and don’t have any of those things you’re talking about! Okay, that is fair. But do you want to hear something scary? There is this thing called an EtG test. It detects ethanol metabolite in your urine. A research study in 2014 showed a positive test result 12 – 24 hours after only 4 drinks. For people who consumed more than 6 drinks there was a positive result almost 40% of the time. This means the idea that alcohol only has effects in your body for 2 hours after you have a drink isn’t the standard we thought it to be. The National Institute on Health describes heavy drinking as more than 4 drinks on any day or 14 per week for a man, and more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week for a woman. The standards further state that for people who exceed these limits, 25% already qualify for an alcohol use disorder and the rest are at very increased risk. As a therapist I find it is commonly known what a hangover looks and feels like. Nausea, sweating, vomiting, headache, shaking all are common symptoms people know of. What people are less educated on are the psychological effects that come with it.

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Jitters
  • Foggy thinking
  • Nightmares

These effects can be mild to severe depending on the person and don’t have to happen immediately. Remember that urine screen? Alcohol’s effects on the body can linger long past that night out. Both physical and psychological effects of drinking can continue to happen up to 10 days after stopping. Even if it was just one raucous night on the town.

What now?

I am not trying to label anyone who has ever had a drink as an alcoholic. But with the mass availability of alcohol and the peer pressure to join in it is worth knowing both the short and long term effects it can have on you. It’s also a great time to open a conversation about the appropriateness of alcohol and start setting a good example for the next generation. So, if you are questioning really you REALLY want that next drink, come talk to one of us. A therapist or counselor can help you decide what is the right next step, for you.

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The Art of Mindful Parenting https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/the-art-of-mindful-parenting/ Sun, 21 Jun 2020 18:52:30 +0000 https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/?p=1892 Mindfulness is a state of mind where we are neither projecting ourselves into the future nor are dwelling on our past. Instead we are actively engaged in the task at hand. This can be happy times like a game of monopoly, frustrating times such as a confrontation with a teenager, or exciting times like a roller coaster ride. When we are being mindful we do not let in distracting thoughts like “I should”, “What if”, “he/she needs to...” into the experience. We simply are present for the task at hand with no expectations for what lead up to it or what it will mean for our future.

Young children live mindfully each and every day. From the child who stops every 3 feet to look at a bug on a walk, to the child who doesn't want their favorite vegetable because it doesn't sound good to them right now, they are aware of what they need right in that moment. This is a sign of being in tuned with ones environment. A child knows what makes them happy. This is their way of reinforcing their thoughts, feelings and beliefs with thoughtful experiences.

With time and over commitments we stop living mindfully and join others in seeking fulfillment through more activity instead of through enjoying the activity we are in. When we dismiss the bug because it is keeping us from getting our 10,000 steps for the day, we teach them their thoughts are not as important as others. When we let them be involved in 3 activities at once we teach them down time is wasted time. When we yell at a child because we fear they will not achieve their full potential we teach them they are not good enough yet. Each time we live for the end goal instead of the journey we diminish the value of the little experiences we have each and every day.

By scaling down our commitments and engaging mind and body in our day to day activities we teach our children to enjoy life. We also get the opportunity to enjoy the parenting experience. Our children are taught that they are interesting, worthwhile, and important to us. As parents we experience less frustration since we are engaged with our children instead of fighting against them. We start to appreciate their little quirks as worthwhile contributions to the family system. Soon we become less stressed about who they will be and are happy about who they are.

Children are not fueled by novelty or material things. They are nourished by the unconditional love and acceptance of their parents and loved ones. So the next time you find your self worrying about whether your child is experiencing enough perhaps you should ask yourself, “Are we enjoying what we are doing right now?”

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Mindfulness is a state of being where we are neither projecting ourselves into the future nor are dwelling on our past. Instead we are actively engaged in the task at hand. This can be happy times like a game of monopoly, frustrating times such as a confrontation with a teenager, or exciting times like a roller coaster ride. When we are being mindful we do not let in distracting thoughts like “I should”, “What if”, “he/she needs to…” into the experience. We simply are present for the task at hand with no expectations for what lead up to it or what it will mean for our future. Young children live mindfully each and every day. From the child who stops every 3 feet to look at a bug on a walk, to the child who doesn’t want their favorite vegetable because it doesn’t sound good to them right now, they are aware of what they need right in that moment. This is a sign of being in tuned with ones environment. A child knows what makes them happy. This is their way of reinforcing their thoughts, feelings and beliefs with thoughtful experiences. With time and over commitments we stop living mindfully and join others in seeking fulfillment through more activity instead of through enjoying the activity we are in. When we dismiss the bug because it is keeping us from getting our 10,000 steps for the day, we teach them their thoughts are not as important as others. When we let them be involved in 3 activities at once we teach them down time is wasted time. When we yell at a child because we fear they will not achieve their full potential we teach them they are not good enough yet. Each time we live for the end goal instead of the journey we diminish the value of the little experiences we have each and every day. By scaling down our commitments and engaging mind and body in our day to day activities we teach our children to enjoy life. We also get the opportunity to enjoy the parenting experience. Our children are taught that they are interesting, worthwhile, and important to us. As parents we experience less frustration since we are engaged with our children instead of fighting against them. We start to appreciate their little quirks as worthwhile contributions to the family system. Soon we become less stressed about who they will be and are happy about who they are. Children are not fueled by novelty or material things. They are nourished by the unconditional love and acceptance of their parents and loved ones. So the next time you find your self worrying about whether your child is experiencing enough perhaps you should ask yourself, “Are we enjoying what we are doing right now?”

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Your Top 5 Parenting Fears and What to do About Them https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/your-top-5-parenting-fears-and-what-to-do-about-them/ Sun, 21 Jun 2020 18:50:38 +0000 https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/?p=1890 Fear is a byproduct of the unknown. Sadly, you can not predict when your child will experience pain or disappointment. You can be there to support them during the tough times, and rejoice with them when they are a success.

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Fears are a normal part of the human existence. Since the beginning of time we have used a healthy sense of fear to prevent us from falling prey to all sorts of dangers. Our bodies have special hormones dedicated to prepping us for fight or flight in the face of peril. As parents we use fear and anxiety as cues to help us make decisions about what our children eat, where they play, and who can be trusted with them. However, fear is an emotion separate from any immediate danger, and is subject to our thoughts and beliefs about what we are facing. If we solely use fear as a guide we can become overbearing and restrictive. So where is the line between healthy fear and a phobia? Here we will discuss several common parenting fears and ways you can manage them healthfully. 1. I am not a good enough parent No matter if they are sharing their success or need your comfort your child wants you. Only that person who they share that special child parent bond with will do. Yes, you are human, and you make mistakes. That is part of the parenting process as well as part of our child’s education. Each time you make a mistake and recover from it your child learns not to fear making mistakes. Each time you apologize for a misstep they learn it is okay to vulnerable. Think of it from you child’s perspective. If they were in the car when you got a ticket what would they think? Would they think, “Mom’s a lousy driver.” Probably not. Most likely they would learn that when you speed you get a ticket. How you handle getting a ticket would also teach them something. Did you complain how unfair it was afterward? Or did you accept responsibility for the mistake and move on? Chances are your child thinks you are wonderful. Our biggest adversary is ourselves. This next month keep a simple one line journal highlighting one good moment you had with your child(ren) that day. At the end of the month read it. It is easier to acknowledge our successes if we look at the impact they make over time.. 2. My child doesn’t measure up – Throughout American pop culture we are inundated with the message that if we do not achieve financial success, conform to a unreachable standard of beauty, or are not a professional athlete we are not as good as others. There is a stigma associated with failure of any sort, and we as parents want to protect our children from any social isolation and labels that comes from achieving less than their peers. Failure is an unavoidable part of life and yet there is an inherent value in failure. If you have failed it means you took a risk. Risk taking is very valuable trait that shows ambition and resiliency. So how can you take risks without experiencing failure? You can’t. Neither can your child. So instead of trying to protect your child from failure, prepare them for it. Let them make their own decisions. Start small by letting them choose their cloths and hair. As you both become more confident give them bigger decisions to make such as what sport they want to be involved in, or whether they want to quit sports and focus on another interest. Children develop at their own pace and have their own unique talents and directions. When you show an interest in where they are at and on those things they want to spend their time on you show you trust their judgment. It is that ability to exercise good judgment which will be a good indicator of their future success. 3. My child will be injured – We feel out of control when our children are out of our watchful eyes. From that first trip around the block on a bike to the first time they borrow the car we worry about their safety. Perhaps we had a bad experience we are trying to prevent them from having. Or perhaps we have a legitimate reason for our concern. Anxiety is a natural when your child tries something new. First we need to recognize our children are going to get hurt. They will get scrapes on the sidewalk, and bumps on the head. I got a call from a nurse one day because, my son was walking in the hallway at school with his eyes closed, and walked into a wall. The nurse was more concerned about the goose egg on his head than he was. For the next week I had to explain to each doctor we saw (because of course I had his physical schedule for that week) and each friend we played with (because it was spring break) what happened. He still can’t explain the game he was playing at the time, but we can laugh about it, now. Next take a look at what you can do to prevent unnecessary injuries. Use of bike helmets, car seats, elbow and knee pads, and some good old fashioned common sense can reduce or eliminate the potential for life threatening harm. According to the CDC childhood injury and death rates are down 29% since 1999. Of those children who were hurt or injured most of those were in car accidents. Use of a car seat for infants reduces the risk of death by 71%, in toddlers the rate is 54%, and in school aged children 4 – 8 years old 45%. So exercise precaution when possible, but don’t blame yourself for the occasional bump or bruise, kids will be kids. 4. My child will become ill – From obesity to cancer we worry about how we will protect our child from the dangers of this world. We scrutinize everything from the food they eat to the shampoo we use in order to try to keep them safe. But in reality how much can we protect them without putting them in a bubble? Each family has to decide what battles they want to fight. You can eat hormone free, organic, non GMO, unprocessed food. You can even drink filtered water, and wear paraben free sunscreen. In the end , however, we have to accept that there are particulates and contaminants which can not be avoided. So what is the reality that something catastrophic will happen? Once again my research lead me to the CDC. According to their website the percentage of 5-11 years old who are in excellent to very good health is 83.8%. The percentage of children who are considered obese is 17.7%. Compared this to the incidents of childhood cancer which are less than 2%. Even as it pertains to childhood illness it would appear that with some good judgment, some quality outdoor family time, and some help from your family physician most children can and do grow up to be happy, healthy adults. 5. My child will be bullied- Bullying is a pervasive problem in our country. Some statistics state that as many as 1 in 4 children will be bullied. The rate goes up to 90% if that child is part of the LGBT community (www.stompoutbullying.org). And now with the rise of cyberbullying they are not necessarily even safe at home. So what is a parent to do? Rather than try to shield your child from the problem teach them the skills they will need to stop bullying before it starts. Some suggestions are:

  • Demonstrate assertive behavior in your daily activities
  • Teach your child social skills
  • Expose them to different places, people and experiences
  • Teach them to identify acts of aggression, and discrimination
  • Role play ways to respond to a bully
  • Teach them to be a helpful bystander
  • Identify adults they can trust when they are not with you
  • Share the rewards of personal achievement with them
  • Point out ways your child is valued by you and the community around them

Fear is a byproduct of the unknown. Sadly, you can not predict when your child will experience pain or disappointment. You can be there to support them during the tough times, and rejoice with them when they are a success. By allowing children to take some risks, and experience some disappointment you can teach them to weather adversity. They will realize they are bigger than life’s challenges. Ultimately they will learn success is not a product of ones advantages or environment . It is a reflection of using their strengths to achieve their hopes and dreams. And until they can realize those dreams they have a wonderful support system, you.

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Why You Should Stop Worrying https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/why-you-should-stop-worrying/ Sun, 21 Jun 2020 18:47:10 +0000 https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/?p=1887 We all have those things in our life that concern us, but for whatever reason are beyond our control and influence

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Worrying for worry’s sake. The act of rehashing something that is either out of your control or that you don’t want to deal with in the hopes of finding a new outcome, or to feel like you are “doing something” about it. The attraction is it feels like action, even if it is about a subject we can not do anything about. The problem is we are spending valuable time and energy in a way that is emotionally exhausting and physically draining. Even for the most empathetic person there has to be a better way. When I think of worry I think of the Serenity Prayer. Learning the difference between what we can, and can not change. The therapeutic term for this is radical acceptance, and it is something everyone should practice. We all have those things in our life that concern us, but for whatever reason are beyond our control and influence. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) teaches us when faced with these situations to work towards accepting what is. By accepting the present we can let go of thoughts like “I should”, “I wish”, or “what if”, and replaced them with a simple “I can” or “I can not”. When we do this we move from basing responses to situations on our emotions and move towards basing them on what we can achieve through action. Some people resist radical acceptance because it means we have to accept things that may be upsetting. They feel like it means they are giving up. The opposite is true though. When we finally accept certain things are outside of our control we can refocus our energy on those things that are we do have influence over. We get greater joy out of our day because we have an achievable purpose. It is then we can see the satisfaction of seeing the impact we make on our self, our surroundings, and on the lives of others. So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed take a mental inventory of what you are thinking about. If it is outside of your control, let it go. If it is within your control, own it, make a plan, and execute it. You soon will be on your way to a happier and more productive you.

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Another Good Reason to “Just Say No” https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/1885-2/ Sun, 21 Jun 2020 18:44:09 +0000 https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/?p=1885 These so called helpful lists negatively reinforce the idea that you are overwhelmed and have failed.

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Follow your own advise they say. Be an example they say. But they don’t have my life, my responsibilities, my schedule! Said every mom ever. I was pondering this as I was bringing up the mountain of clean laundry that had accumulated in my basement over the past month. All month I dutifully washed load after load, and then ignored the growing pile on the floor in favor of catching up on other projects that desperately needed my attention, and not surprisingly still do. Lately, I have been trying to stick to my own advice on an article I read about not keeping a “to do” list. In the article they state that those cursed lists are dumping grounds for those things we either needed to do right then, or never should have said “yes” to in the first place. These so called helpful lists negatively reinforce the idea that you are overwhelmed and have failed. I could relate to that assessment. But in trying to finish off and rid myself of the dreaded “to do” list I found myself still playing a game of mommy whack-a-mole. It seemed every time I got caught up in one area another two desperately needed my attention. How on earth do I get myself into these situations?!? I thought I was doing everything right. I have my kids in one sport or lessons at a time. I work mostly when my kids are in school. I have one…okay two , PTA’s and then family commitments. I see other people doing it. Working full time with more children than I have, and still being engaged with their family, friends, and volunteering. What am I doing wrong? Then it hit me like a brick. I am not doing anything wrong. I am doing what many others are doing. Too much. I set my bar high and have many goals, and my schedule is filled just to the tippy top. However there is no padding, no down time, no relaxation. So when something outside of our routine does come up I have to shuffle things around in order to try and squeeze out another hour out of an already jam packed day. Invariably, out of the 100 things I am juggling at once at least one or two get dropped. Then I feel guilty for not trying hard enough to help, or not keeping up with those things I already am depended on for. What is the answer for me and mom’s like me? Many professionals in my field advocate for scheduling in relaxation and downtime. Phewy! I say we need to just schedule less. If we have down time allotted in our day we have room for the unexpected. Then when something out of the blue comes up we are able to attend to it. According to the Cleveland Clinic when we are stressed we can become forgetful, have difficulty concentrating, and feel isolated and alone. Physically stress can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a weakened immune system. So I asked myself, do I have the time to say “yes” to one more comity or one more event? It might seem like I do, but then will I have time to take care of the mound of laundry, or take mom to the doctor, or volunteer at my kids school? Nope, and now I can’t make “to do” lists either. So my new resolution is to say “no” to more activity, and “yes” to more relaxation. Yes to working out, taking walks, baking muffins, and planting flowers. This way I will have time for the unexpected, because I made the time by saying “no”. Sure some people might be upset at first. Ultimately, though I will be a better helper by concentrating my efforts where they are needed the most, and a happier healthier person as well. If you like this article and want to read more please visit us at www.lamplightcounseling.net and share it with your friends!

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7 Steps to Reduce Back to School Anxiety https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/7-steps-to-reduce-back-to-school-anxiety/ Sun, 21 Jun 2020 18:41:42 +0000 https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/?p=1883 It is time to get ready to go back to school. Even though the transition from summer to fall is a big one, it does not have to be a stressful time. In fact, with a little preparation it can be a time to look forward to for parents, and children alike.

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It’s about that time of year when the store shelves are filled with spiral bound notebooks and backpacks. When we start to crave the smell of the fall air, and look forward to apple picking and hayrides. It is time to get ready to go back to school. Even though the transition from summer to fall is a big one, it does not have to be a stressful time. In fact, with a little preparation it can be a time to look forward to for parents, and children alike.

1. Concentrate on the positive – Talk about the friends they will see, and the classes they enjoy. Set up a couple of outings with schoolmates they haven’t seen in a while. Having a friend in the class can make the entire room seem more familiar. Also having a social network, even a small one, helps prevent bullying.

2. Validate – Let’s be realistic, school isn’t everyone’s favorite pastime. There is homework, deadlines, and people they are forced to spend a great deal of time with that they may not like. Listen if your child complains. Sometimes they want your advice, other times they just want to vent. My favorite open ended question is, “How can I help?” This question helps you get an idea of which one your child needs in that moment. Follow their lead.

3. Get prepared – Help your child get excited about fall by involving them in buying school supplies, uniforms, or back to school clothes. Write out the weekly schedule and post it somewhere everyone can see it. Read any orientation materials you get with them to make sure everyone is on the same page.

4. Check out after school care ­ If your child is going to a new after school care make sure to give them a tour. Do a run through of when and how they are going to get there, and when they should expect you to pick them up. Children that have separation anxiety often are helped with the use of a transitional object, Something that will remind them you are there.Some ideas include a picture of the two of you, a special key chain on their book bag, or a note in their lunch.

5. Utilize a communication system – If your child will be home alone after school, especially if it is their first time, start a communication system now to help keep them on track. This can be a dry erase board with a short “to-­do” list, an afternoon text message, a call, or a post it note. Whatever it is it should be written, short, and updated daily. Lists that don’t change often end up forgotten about. Something that shows caring, and is updated daily is more likely to get attention.

6. Introduce the new schedule early– About a week before school starts begin having meals at approximately the same time they will be eaten during school. Get them involved by having them prepare breakfast, and help put together lunches. Also , set a regular wake up time. The bedtime will follow, especially if you throw a little outdoor exercise into the routine.

7. Regulate screen time ­ Screen time has been linked to symptoms of depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and lack of concentration. Now is the time to get kids back down to the recommended two hours or less of screen time per day. Worried they will be bored? Plan an end of summer bucket list, and get in some quality family time. Concentrating on what they can do can help ease the transition, and will make back to school fun for the whole family.

If you are concerned that your child’s anxiety is more than just back to school jitters you can call Lamplight Counseling Services LLC at 330-­331-­5800. Our counselors and therapist are here to help you and your child develop the coping and communication skills needed for a successful school year.

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The Emotional Effects of Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/the-emotional-effects-of-attention-deficit-hyper-activity-disorder/ Sun, 21 Jun 2020 18:37:18 +0000 https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/?p=1881 However, ADHD is not just a behavioral disorder of childhood as previously thought. It is a neuro-behavioral disorder associated with differences in the prefrontal cortex, the front portion of the brain responsible for mental functions including attention and behavior

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For years people have focused on the visible effects of ADHD, namely an inability to concentrate in school and impulsive behavior. We are now becoming more aware of the emotional effects of the ADHD diagnosis. The DSM-5TM describes ADHD as a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development, and negatively impacts social, academic or occupational functioning. However, ADHD is not just a behavioral disorder of childhood as previously thought. It is a neuro-behavioral disorder associated with differences in the prefrontal cortex, the front portion of the brain responsible for mental functions including attention and behavior1. Children diagnosed with ADHD tend to be impatient, restless, and react inappropriately in social situations. They are easily provoked and may be labeled as troublesome for speaking out of turn, and displaying seemingly rude behaviors. Why is this? Let’s take a look.

Biology

Research suggests people with ADHD process two hormones, norepinephrine and dopamine, differently than those without ADHD due to the difference in brain structure.1 Norepinephrine is the neurotransmitter,a substance that transmits nerve impulses across our body, and helps us react to stress and danger. When this stress hormone is low we can be less alert, and have difficulty remembering things. Dopamine helps regulate emotional responses and is the happiness hormone which is in charge of feelings of reward and pleasure. When doctors prescribe stimulants for people diagnosed with ADHD those stimulants increase the level of these hormones in the body making it easier to concentrate and manage emotions effectively2.

Psychology

Children with ADHD often have trouble making and maintaining friendships because, classmates and school teachers may interpret their outbursts as disruptive and troublesome. Anger is a normal human emotion. However, people with ADHD, may have more trouble focusing on tasks and dealing with stress, which may cause frustration and heighten anger. According to the Mayo Clinic, the emotional effects of ADHD, such as outbursts of anger, may also complicate relationships and cause problems at work or school. These children can react strongly to emotional stimulus like loosing a game, or a correction by a teacher. Sometimes their inability to sit still or focusing on an unrelated task, such as talking to friends can lead them to being labeled as defiant and unruly.

How You Can Help

Though the emotional symptoms of ADHD often mimic those of other diagnosis like depression and anxiety they are separate diagnosis and a professional should be consulted to make a diagnosis and to recommend treatment. Doctors and therapists can use questionnaires and other measures, like a physical examination and medical history to help decide if mood difficulties are cause by ADHD or other issues. Our bodies experience a natural boost in norepinephrine when we sleep, exercise, meet a goal, or feel loved. This likely is why diet, exercise, sports and reward systems work well with children with ADHD. Children with ADHD can feel left out, marginalized, sad and isolated because they are unable to achieve the goals set for them by parents, teachers, and caregivers. Focusing on those things they are successful at, and helping them to achieve small manageable goals each day can help increase their self-esteem, and emotional coping skills. If you have a child who is experiencing symptoms of ADHD and would like some help you can call Lamplight Counseling Services LLC at 330-331-5800. 1Biol Psychiatry, 2005 June 1; 57(11):1377-84.2 Neel Duggal “Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD): The Role of Dopamine Healthline June 10, 2016

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Let’s Take the Bully out of Bullying https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/lets-take-the-bully-out-of-bullying/ Sun, 21 Jun 2020 18:33:26 +0000 https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/?p=1879 The word bully is an all encompassing label that designates a child as being mean, cold hearted, damaged or deranged in some sort of way.

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Bullying in school is an issue which has always been present in schools and in our communities. Though it has taken many different forms the results are usually the same. Children have heard many different suggestions on how to handle a bully. We have taught them to ignore, go to an adult, or to confront the bully. All with varying levels of success. Sometimes the bully is punished by the school through the use of detention. Other times they are punished at home with the loss of privileges, grounding, scolding or more severe consequences. Sometimes there is no consequence at all. So then what is a parent to do when trying to prepare their children for what almost seems like an inevitability? I suggest taking the word bully out of the discussion altogether. The word bully is an all encompassing label that designates a child as being mean, cold hearted, damaged or deranged in some sort of way. I have yet to see a child in my office who is bad to the core. Instead when parents bring in children who have been showing signs of aggression whether at home or in school, I see a struggling child. Sometimes this child has troubles at home, other times this child has an undiagnosed mental illness such as ADHD, or depression. Whatever the issues there is almost always a root cause to the behavior. A label such a “Bully” puts the cause and the solution outside of the child’s reach. As adults it is our responsibility to help children learn the coping skills they need to manage their behavior in a healthy way. When children start to act out it is easy to jump to punishments to get them back in line. However this often exacerbates the problem because in addition to the root cause of the problem the child now is alienated from the adults who could be helpful and he or she can start to think poorly of themselves which leads to increased acting out behaviors due to low self-esteem. So what is a parent to do when you think your child is being bullied? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Learn the signs that your child is being bullied. Loss of interest in activities they normally enjoyed, school refusal, stomach aches or other ailments that come up routinely around school events. Recognizing the signs and intervening as soon as possible will help reduce the cycle of bullying.
  2. Remember this is a child who feels out of control, and in order to feel in control they are going to control someone else. This person needs someone to help them manage their behavior until they are able to manage it themselves.
  3. Keeping number two in mind early intervention is helpful because it can bring attention to both children’s needs. Keeping your child safe it the priority, but also identifying a child who has challenges and/or barriers that are not being met is helpful to the school and parents. For instance a parent who is trying to get their child on an IEP for an emotional disability may have difficulty until the school recognizes that this issue is impacting the learning environment. Partner with other parents to make a change.
  4. Teach your child multiple strategies to deal with bullying. Your child can ignore, walk away, tell the bully that this isn’t funny, and he/she wants them to stop. They can also ask for help from peers, teachers, lunch monitors, school counselors and administrators.
  5. The child also can invite the bully in. Ask them to come play a game, sit with him/her at the lunch table, or come over for a play date. If the bully is a lonely child with poor social skills they may just need someone to take the first step.
  6. Be a good bystander. This doesn’t always mean confronting the bully. It means providing an alternative activity to either the bully, or the victim. For instance, walking up to the victim and asking them to play a game at the other end of the room. Or, telling the victim the teacher needs them, and walking to the teacher with them. Conversely a child whose friend is making a bad decision could make a joke, “you don’t want to do that, it’s silly.” or they could offer to have the child get involved in another activity.

The idea behind these actions isn’t to label a child, or their behavior as bad. It is to provide alternatives to that behavior they can use for years to come. In doing this we not only help our children, but the community as a whole. As always if your child is in physical or mental jeopardy then it is imperative to seek intervention by the school, or activity chair. If you child has suffered from bullying episodes or is currently struggling psychotherapy can help them learn the skills they need to combat bullying and maintain a healthy self image. For more information on mental health or to get assistance visit our website at www.lamplightcounseling.net.

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Teen Athletic Burnout https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/teen-athletic-burnout/ Sun, 21 Jun 2020 18:31:37 +0000 https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/?p=1877 Teens still need their parents to provide structure and direction, but they also need the freedom to make their own decisions and learn from their choices.

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I would like to thank the Medina Athletic Boosters for allowing me to come and speak about Athletic Burnout this week. I was thrilled to be able to speak to such a wonderful organization filled with such caring parents, and coaches. The teen years are a tremendous time of growth both emotionally, intellectually, and physically. Emotionally they are challenged with new freedoms, and increasing responsibilities. Intellectually children are expected to get good grades, prepare for college, and for some even attend college classes. Physically teens start to experience a separation between those children that are naturally gifted and grow into their sports and those who may struggle. No matter where they are physically there is a high demand to prove themselves now so they can have a bright future later. All this change and responsibility does not leave much time to enjoy today and be present and mindful of their current experiences. Children and teens need downtime to relax, be bored, create, and explore. In this way they can develop their sense of self and where they belong in the world. A balance between sports and non-sports related activities can help them achieve a sense of self, and is pivotal in preventing athletic burnout. Some examples of activities they could engage include art, music, reading, theater, hiking, watching movies with their family, and having a bonfire with friends. It is during these down times that our children are able to synthesize all the information coming in from the world around them and truly develop into the wonderful adults we know they will be. Besides encouraging your child to have some down time my biggest piece of advice for parents of athletes is to listen to what your child is, and is not telling you. Watch their body language. Take note of their excitement or resistance going to practice. Listen to them when they vent about their injuries, team, coach, or ambitions. Then respect their decisions to move about the world and make their own choices. A guide to deciding if this is the right decision for them is to ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Does this go against my morals?
  2. Will this negatively impact anyone on a personal level?
  3. Will this break the law?

If the answer to all three is no, there is a good chance you should allow your teen to make their own decision and experience the natural consequences, good or bad. Teens still need their parents to provide structure and direction, but they also need the freedom to make their own decisions and learn from their choices. It is this ability to believe in their choices and think critically that will ensure a bright future, and reduce the chance of burnout both in sports and out.

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Bullying 101: What you need to know about bullying right now. https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/bullying-101-what-you-need-to-know-about-bullying-right-now/ Sun, 21 Jun 2020 18:29:53 +0000 https://www.lamplightcounseling.net/?p=1875 Fortunately just a little bit of information on bullying awareness can help children and adults manage a situation if they are faced with a bully.

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I would like to thank Jeff Ellis of International Karate Centers in Strongsville for asking me to speak on this important topic. I would also like to thank all the parents who came to the Middleburg Heights Recreation Center last week for sharing their insights and experiences with us. Bullying is a socially pervasive problem in our culture. Children and adults alike can suffer from the effects of being bullied. Fortunately just a little bit of information on bullying awareness can help children and adults manage a situation if they are faced with a bully. The following is a checklist of information to help identify bullying and some ideas for how to address the bully and the situation in general. There are many techniques for managing a bully. The important thing is that the bullying is stopped and the victim feels supported by their parents, friends, and teachers. Sometimes this means listening and empathizing with the victim, other times it means parents need to directly intervene. No matter what the situation, realize that you are not alone. Bullying Basics:

  • Bullying is not pre-wired, or inevitable
  • Bullying is learned, and controllable
  • Bullying spreads if supported or left unchecked
  • Bullying involves everyone-bullies, victims, and bystanders
  • Bullying can be stopped or entirely prevented

Bullying is a form of emotional or physical abuse that has three defining characteristics:

  • Deliberate-a bully’s intention is to hurt someone
  • Repeated- a bully often targets the same victim again and again
  • Power imbalanced- A bully chooses victims he or she perceives as vulnerable

Most Bullying is not reported. Warning signs your child is being bullied include:

  • Evidence of physical abuse, such as bruises and scratches
  • Loss of friends, changes in friends
  • Reluctance to participate in activities with peers
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Being unusually sad, moody, anxious, lonely, or depressed
  • Problems with eating, sleeping, bed-wetting
  • Headaches, stomachaches, or other physical complaints
  • Decline in school achievement
  • Thoughts of suicide

What can you do?

  • Demonstrate assertive behavior
  • Teach social skills
  • Identify potential friendship problems and correct them
  • Teach common courtesy skills
  • Identify ways to respond to bullies
  • Demonstrate the rewards of personal achievement

What can your child do?

  • Lean to identify acts of aggression, bossiness, or discrimination
  • Encourage children not to give up objects or territories to bullies
  • Be assertive, maintain eye contact, speak with a calm voice, avoid name calling or threats, reply briefly and directly, and avoid bringing up past grudges or making generalizations. (You always…)
  • Be a helpful bystander- Stand between or near the victim and the bully, separate them if necessary, do not respond aggressively. Instead simply escort the person who is being bullied away.
  • If a bystander can not safely intervene they can get an adult to do so.

Bullying 101: What you need to know about bullying right now.**Adapted from the Eyes on Bullying Strategy Book

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