Help! My Child is Depressed!

If your child is depressed it is important to understand the symptoms and treatment options available.

What is Depression?

Depression is more than having a bad day or feeling blue—it can take a serious toll on an individual’s life.  Depression can be even more overwhelming when your child is the one experiencing it.  Children may experience depression for a variety of reasons, but it often results from a major change or trauma the child has gone through. If your child is depressed it is important to understand the symptoms and treatment options available. This article will teach you what to look for and the next steps to take if a child you know is experiencing depression.

Depression affects more than just the individual experiencing it.  As a parent, depression in your child may be confusing.  You may be asking:

    • Why is my child depressed?
    • What do I need to do next?
    • Is it my fault?
    • Will they struggle forever?

Trying to interact with a child who is depressed can sometimes feel like a lost cause.  As a parent you try and talk with your child and figure out what is wrong so you can help them.  Your child may not understand what is going on or how to communicate their feelings.  This can leave you frustrated with “I don’t know” answers.  Siblings may also be confused about what is happening in their family.  It is the elephant in the room that no one knows how to handle.

What Causes Depression?

Depression is often not attributed to one specific event but usually a series of events.  Biologically, one of the contributors to depression is a lowered level of neurotransmitters in the brain.  These carry signals through the brain that cause one to feel good.  Situations like divorce, loss of a loved one, serious illness, moving, intense periods of stress, and even school performance can be contributing factors to depression.

Recognizing Symptoms of Depression in Your Child:

Some of the symptoms of depression in children are as follows.  It is important to remember that your child may not have all of these but still may be dealing with depression.

  • Change in eating habits: eating significantly more or less than usual – not otherwise attributed to a growth spurt
  • Change in sleeping patterns: sleeping significantly more or having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Change in mood: the child is often more irritable, sad, or angry
  • Decrease in energy level: your typically spunky child is now more sedate
  • Loss of interest: Decreased desire or motivation to participate in activities the child once enjoyed
  • Low self-esteem: this may show up as negative self-talk – “I’m stupid” or “I’m ugly”
  • Hopelessness: your child may not see the future getting any better for them
  • Social withdrawal: not socializing or spending time with friends
  • Increased sensitivity to perceived rejection: believing that most people around them will reject them
  • Physical complaints that don’t respond to treatment (i.e. Stomach pains, increased headaches)
  • Increase in crying over situations that may seem benign (i.e. not liking dinner)
  • Disruptions at school: either academically or behaviorally
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

How to help:

  1. Talk with your child.  Open communication is vital.  Reassure your child.  Let them know that you’re there for them and you are willing to walk through this with them – they do not have to do this alone.
  2. Find a therapist willing to listen to both you and your child.  Walking through depression with your child needs to be a collaborative effort.
  3. Connect with a friend.  You, as the parent, need someone to walk through this with you.  Find a friend who can be encouraging.

What about medication?

Just because your child is feeling depressed or going through depression does not necessarily mean they need to be on medication.  This is a conversation you need to have with your child’s physician or psychiatrist.  Medication is best utilized in conjunction with therapy.

Now what?

If you have a child who is facing depression, or have concerns about your child, we’re here to assist you.  Please know there is help available.  This is not a journey that needs to be taken alone.  Follow this link to schedule an appointment to talk with someone about helping your child walk through depression.

 

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

The post Help! My Child is Depressed! appeared first on Rebecca Barratt, MA, LPC.

When to Get Family Counseling: Family Counseling 101

family therapy counseling

Most of us put things off until we can’t any longer. If you have taken time to look at getting  family counseling, you probably already know it’s time or past time to get help.  At The Relationship Center, we know issues don’t simply go away; they just demand our attention more loudly over time. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring a problem until it becomes unmanageable. Common issues include:

  • Lack of Communication
  • Damaged and Distant Family Relationships
  • Disrespect and Defiance in Children
  • School Failure
  • Destructive Peer Relationships
  • Effective Parenting
  • Abuse and Neglect

Who Gets Family Therapy?

“Normal Families.” Often, families assume they are abnormal or lesser if they need help. We use the word “normal” as a measuring stick for our lives. However, part of living is having real challenges, and overcoming requires getting help at times. All families have difficulties. Not all families overcome.

Who Needs to Come to the Session?

Initially, your counselor will meet with all of your family together to gather information, gaining an understanding of the situation. You will be asked to consider what you want to work on. Next, he or she will make recommendations on how to proceed. He or she will likely set times to meet with children or parents individually. This can vary from family to family, taking into account the particular issues present in each case.

How Long Does Counseling Last?

The duration of counseling depends on two basic variables: extent of the problems and what you hope to accomplish. First, the extent of the issues takes into account the severity of symptoms and the extent to which healthy functioning is disrupted. Second, each family must decide what they want to accomplish. If the goal is quick alleviation of symptoms via behavioral means, the counseling intervention is generally brief. However, if core issues are not addressed, long-term problems will likely rise again. This is a “band-aid” approach. A more thorough intervention involves taking time to get to the root of the problems, not simply addressing symptoms or problem behaviors. This takes longer and is more involved, but is generally more effective long-term. It is a “surgical” approach.

What If My Child / Teenager Is Really Upset With the Idea Of Counseling?

Resistance is a norm in counseling, not a rarity. As a parent, you are often put in the position of knowing what is best and making sure this occurs. Therefore, it is no surprise that counseling is like eating vegetables, frowned upon by children although it is healthy. Your counselor is experienced at dealing with resistance and it is rarely an ongoing issue. Regardless, be encouraged. As a parent, you do not need your child’s permission to improve your family situation.

The post When to Get Family Counseling: Family Counseling 101 appeared first on Shaun Lotter, MA, LPC.

Teaching Empathy By Bringing Babies to School

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/03/using-babies-to-decrease-aggression-prevent-bullying.html

Check out the article, “Bringing Babies to the Classroom to Teach Empathy, Prevent Bullying,” by Mike Fritz at www. pbs.org. The article and PBS news clip discuss a new strategy to helping teach empathy and prevent bullying through the use of babies.  Sounds like they might be on to something!

The post Teaching Empathy By Bringing Babies to School appeared first on Nikki Pinkley.

Keys to Having A Great Family

family therapy counseling

God-centered and parent led. The structure of your home is key to the success of the family. You are a servant of God first, a spouse second, and a parent third. God must be first in the home. His plan and purpose must be honored above all. Parents must be dedicated to worshiping and serving the Lord. Everything else flows out of this commitment, as a relationship with God and obedience to His commands allows us to live life as He intended, at its best.

The relationship between husband and wife comes next. Time with your spouse and the health of your marriage is foundational to your role as a parent. You cannot parent effectively if you are both on different teams. This is in contrast with the tendency for families to be child-centered.

In a child-centered home, the children are the sun around which everything else orbits. The key to happiness in families such as these is the faulty idea that addressing a child’s problems is the answer. The child will improve and all others in the home will benefit. However, in a God-centered and parent led home, children follow. This might sound unkind, but please consider, children left without guidance are not happy. They are further upset by the insistence that they grasp abstract concepts of relationship, which they are developmentally incapable of processing. The end result is an angry child, who resents, rather than appreciates his or her parents.

When to Get Family Counseling?

family therapy counseling

Most of us put things off until we can’t any longer. If you have taken time to look at getting  family counseling, you probably already know it’s time or past time to get help.  At The Relationship Center, we know issues don’t simply go away; they just demand our attention more loudly over time. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring a problem until it becomes unmanageable. Common issues include:

  • Lack of Communication
  • Damaged and Distant Family Relationships
  • Disrespect and Defiance in Children
  • School Failure
  • Destructive Peer Relationships
  • Effective Parenting
  • Abuse and Neglect

Who Gets Family Therapy?

“Normal Families.” Often, families assume they are abnormal or lesser if they need help. We use the word “normal” as a measuring stick for our lives. However, part of living is having real challenges, and overcoming requires getting help at times. All families have difficulties. Not all families overcome.

Who Needs to Come to the Session?

Initially, your counselor will meet with all of your family together to gather information, gaining an understanding of the situation. You will be asked to consider what you want to work on. Next, he or she will make recommendations on how to proceed. He or she will likely set times to meet with children or parents individually. This can vary from family to family, taking into account the particular issues present in each case.

How Long Does Counseling Last?

The duration of counseling depends on two basic variables: extent of the problems and what you hope to accomplish. First, the extent of the issues takes into account the severity of symptoms and the extent to which healthy functioning is disrupted. Second, each family must decide what they want to accomplish. If the goal is quick alleviation of symptoms via behavioral means, the counseling intervention is generally brief. However, if core issues are not addressed, long-term problems will likely rise again. This is a “band-aid” approach. A more thorough intervention involves taking time to get to the root of the problems, not simply addressing symptoms or problem behaviors. This takes longer and is more involved, but is generally more effective long-term. It is a “surgical” approach.

What If My Child / Teenager Is Really Upset With the Idea Of Counseling?

Resistance is a norm in counseling, not a rarity. As a parent, you are often put in the position of knowing what is best and making sure this occurs. Therefore, it is no surprise that counseling is like eating vegetables, frowned upon by children although it is healthy. Your counselor is experienced at dealing with resistance and it is rarely an ongoing issue. Regardless, be encouraged. As a parent, you do not need your child’s permission to improve your family situation.

 

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

What is Biblically Based Family Counseling?

biblical family counseling

What Do We Believe?

We believe that the family was created by God to be the best way to raise children and build healthy relationships. The family is as relevant as it has ever been. Getting the help needed for your family is a sign of leadership as a parent and a trait of a successful family. Working with great families is what we do at The Relationship Center.

The Bible is God’s Word and provides us with His plan for living at its best. We are provided with a clear course that guides behaviors, attitudes, and roles in the family. We believe in a Biblical family model, which we uphold in counseling sessions. Parents are in charge of the home, having the mantel of leadership and responsibility. Children are not equals, and are not happy being treated as such. Instead, they are to respect and be led by parents.

Dynamic

Successful families and successful people for that matter, are not rigid. They understand the need to adapt over time to maximize effectiveness. Strength requires that we be firm in our commitment to the standards laid out for us in the Bible; able to apply these in a broad array of circumstances. This is not the same as compromise, which entails the gradual erosion of standards. Families should never stop learning.

What Happens in a Family Counseling Session?

family therapy child counselingWhat is Family Counseling?

Family counseling is a dynamic way of helping a family to overcome difficulty and become all that God intends for them to be. It’s completely confidential.

Family Counseling sessions involve parents and children coming together for the purpose of overcoming difficulty and increasing communication. With this in place, your therapist will guide you in communicating as a family, targeting needed changes. This will take the form of exploration of issues, behavior modification, didactic work, and processing emotions.

What Do Children Do In Counseling?

To answer that question, first we first consider the child’s age and level of functioning. Next, your counselor takes time to assess the issues needing to be addressed. If a child would benefit, our counselor will utilize techniques and an approach appropriate to maximize benefit. The goal when working with children and teenagers is not to help them “think like an adult.” Instead, we want to reach them where they are. Children and teenagers can benefit from counseling; the approach simply requires some modification.

What Is My Role As A Parent In Counseling?

To answer that question, first we first consider the child’s age and level of functioning. Next, your counselor takes time to assess the issues needing to be addressed. If a child would benefit, our counselor will utilize techniques and an approach appropriate to maximize benefit. The goal when working with children and teenagers is not to help them “think like an adult.” Instead, we want to reach them where they are. Children and teenagers can benefit from counseling; the approach simply requires some modification.

How Do We Get Started in Counseling?

Give us a call or send us an email. One of our counselors will call you back promptly to discuss your situation. Then, a first session, or time for you to come into the office can be scheduled.

About Family Counseling & Child Counseling

iStock_Happy-Family-Large-sizeYou love your family. That’s why you want the best help you can get.

All families have their strengths and struggles. We’re here to help you maximize your family’s strengths and overcome the struggles. We understand the stressors that parents face in trying to juggle life, bills, jobs, and of course family. Family counseling and child counseling help bring out the best in your family.

“All families have their strengths and struggles. We’re here to help you maximize your families strengths and overcome the struggles.”

The family experts at The Relationship Center know how to help you succeed. We can help you:

  • Gain control over an out-of-control situation.
  • Identify potential problems and head them off before they become serious.
  • Help your family navigate the hardship of divorce and blended family issues.
  • Be equipped with tools to help your kids succeed while maintaining your sanity.
  • Transition your teens into adulthood responsibility and establish good boundaries.

A family life with less stress is attainable. It’s up to you whether you experience it or not. Let us provide you with the tools, know-how, and support to make it happen.

Healing, Hope and a Future without an eating disorder are really out there for you to find. Learn About Appointments.

ABCs of the Parent Child Relationship

 

parent-child relationship

parentingwithunderstanding.com

As a parent how do I form a healthy relationship with my child? We all want to have a healthy parent child relationship, but we don’t always know how to. There is a story I remember from Sunday School about two house builders. Set in modern times, I can picture a bulldozer, cement ready for scaffolding, and heaving traffic trundling through the streets as two houses are constructed on opposite sides of the road. They are being built by two different construction companies.

The Foolman Company went with a sand foundation because it was an easier and less expensive option.  The Wiseman Company made a different decision that was going to be more challenging; they took God’s advice and decided to build on a rock foundation. The two houses were made of the same material and both were finished just before a monstrous storm of strong and destructive winds with hammering rain hit the new neighborhood.

As the rain bashed against the house of the Foolman Company, which was built on sand, it fell down with a great crash. However, the Wiseman Company’s house, which had a strong and steady rock foundation, stood firm through the intense and destructive storm. You might recognize this parable from Matthew 7:24-27.

The Wiseman’s secure foundation allowed the house to withstand the strong storm. A foundation–whether weak or strong–influences the attachment between the parent child relationship. The foundation of attachment is the blueprint for a child’s well-being and future relationships.

 Foundation to Child – Parent Relationship

  • Parent Child Attachment

To understand the parent child attachment it is important to think about what attachment means. An attachment is a bond or relationship that children form with his or her primary parent or caregiver in which they depend on the parent for survival and to meet their physical and emotional needs. The parent child attachment bond sets the foundation for the potential social and family relationships and personality characteristics of a life-span. In addition, social skills, emotional regulation, cognitive flexibility, and problem-solving are influenced by the attachment between the parent child relationship. The bond begins at infancy between mother and child.

  • Why is it Important?

Research by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth supports the importance of a healthy and secure parent child attachment that lead to pro-social behavior and positive self-esteem, including:

  • Exploration of self-development
  • Healthy relationship skills
  • Ability to empathize and feel compassion
  • Firm sense of identity
  • Develop more intimate relationships

A child that experiences an insecure parent child attachment may face developmental problems, emotional disorders, adult relationship issues, and aggressive behavior.

  • Cause of Insecure Parent  Child Attachment

Insecure attachment patterns can begin in early infancy in which a child has experienced an inconsistent and unstable environment where the caregiver fails to provide availability and sensitivity. Availability means to be available for the child physically and mentally when needed.  Sensitivity is the ability to exhibit empathy and perceive a child’s unmet needs. Other factors that lead to an insecure attachment for children in the parent child relationship include:

  • Abuse
    • Physical Abuse
    • Sexual Abuse
    • Emotional Abuse
  • Boundary Violations
    • Overly Flexible: Unclear boundaries that are easily bent, too diffused or enmeshed
    •  Overly Rigid- Inappropriate boundaries that lack flexibility or severe set standards
  • Parental Abandonment
    • Death
    •  Divorce
    • Adoption
    • Child placed in foster care or placed with other family members
  • Care Giver with Psychological Disorders
    • Postpartum Depression
    • Mood Disorders
    • Personality Disorders
    • Anxiety Disorders
  • Numerous Moves
  • Unprepared Parenthood
  • Addictions
  • Medication Conditions
  • Neglect: When the primary parent or caregiver gives little attention or no attention to a child’s emotional and physical needs.
  • How to Provide a Secure Base for the Parent Child Relationship

Building a secure base for your parent child relationship is going to take some work, but you are not alone and there are several tools to help. A secure base for your child will prepare them for the strong storms that will hit them, but with a secure foundation they can stand firmly and boldly through the many challenges and journeys they will experience.

The ABC’s to a Secure Base for the Parent Child Relationship

A-Available- Be available and provide awareness and attentiveness to your child.  Be there for them. Look into your child’s eyes as she talks to you. Apply active-listening skills and exhibit empathy, love, support, and warmth as he shares his feelings to you. Try setting at least 20 minutes a day to spending time doing an activity they would like to do.

B-Boundaries - Boundaries are personal border lines indicating the things that are important to us and determine the limits; similar to a property line. Be able to set and maintain healthy boundaries and model appropriate behavior through actions and words. Teach respect and responsibility by example and through firm and loving boundaries.

C-Consistency- Provide a stable and consistent environment and help your child as he or she develops the tools and skills to cope with the changing circumstances by applying the ABC’s of the parent-child relationship.

Early secure attachment for the parent child relationship is crucial for healthy social and emotional development. An insecure attachment can have adverse consequences for later relationships and well-being. The parable from Matthew 7:24-27 about the two different foundations, the secure and insecure base, illustrate the importance of developing a rock foundation for children. At infancy the child depends on the parent to meet their emotional and physical needs. The bond between the parent child relationship is a blueprint to how the child will respond to strong storms that will be faced through the life-span.  To build a secure base for your parent child relationship allow God to guide you and use the tools available to assist with the ABC’s of the parent-child relationship: availability/attentiveness, balanced boundaries, and consistency.


 

The post ABCs of the Parent Child Relationship appeared first on Nikki Pinkley.

Surviving Teens

TeensFor many families and individuals, surviving the teens can be one of the most challenging, intimidating, and frustrating experiences of the human growth process. Most families want the stage of adolescence to be a time of self-discovery, maturity, and a learning experience for their youth.

There are a number of factors that play into an adolescent’s development:

  • Egocentrism is when an individual believes that other teenagers and friends are thinking about them and inspecting their every move.
  • Cognitive Functioning and Brain Development- Unlike the adult brain, the adolescent years are an important stage of brain development as vital structural changes take place.
  • Influence on Conformity in our Society- Body image, media, relationships, economic status, sports, grades, etc… Conformity can put pressure on adolescents to conform to societal standards.
  • Puberty
  • Value and Moral Conflict

Adolescents have a desire for boundaries and limitations from their caretaker. They may also need help from their caretakers and professionals with the following:

  • Avoiding feelings of inferiority
  • Handling peer pressure
  • Drug Abuse
  • Romantic Love
  • Overcoming Discouragement
  • Sound decision-making
  • Handling independence
  • Changing hormones and puberty

Having the correct tools can help adolescents and parents survive this challenging stage of human growth. Proper preparation will help families ease their children into the transformation from a child to teenager.

Start talking to your child now about the adolescent years to prepare them for the changes and transformation into pre-adulthood. It is never too late to start talking with your son or daughter, even if they are already a teenager.
Don’t be afraid to use other resources for guidance: youth pastor, counselor, family member, friend, or book. God does a great job of providing Biblical resources, materials, and parenting techniques for utilization during the different stages of development.

Book Recommendations:

  •  Preparing For Adolescence: How to Survive the Coming Years of Change- Dr. James Dobson
  • Safe People, How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t- Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
  • Boundaries in Dating- Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
  • The Five Love Languages- Gary Chapman
  • For Boys:
    o Bringing Up Boys- Dr. James Dobson
  • For Girls:
    o The Lily Series- It’s a God Thing! (The Lily Series). Nancy Rue
    and Steve Mach
    The Body Book
    The Buddy Book
    The Blurry Rules Book
    The Value and Virtue Book
    o Your Girl, Raising a Godly Daughter in an Ungodly World-
    Vicki Courtney

The post Surviving Teens appeared first on Nikki Pinkley.