When I was little, my mother used to say “I talk to the trees but they don’t listen to me,” a reference to a song Clint Eastwood sang in Paint Your Wagon and to my choice to not listen to her. Do you ever feel like that with your kids?
I most certainly do. Some might call this karma; others say our dispositions may be genetic. One thing is for sure – your strong-willed child can be a) explained and b) taught to love and calm down.
Dr. Liane Leedom, a psychology professor at the University of Bridgeport and mother of three, was interviewed about strong-willed children this week on The Parent’s Plate, a radio show hosted by parenting expert, author and speaker Brenda Nixon. The show airs on Tuesdays on Toginet Radio or you can download past shows on iTunes for free. She offers a wide range of topics that are incredibly helpful for parents “with too much on their plates,” as she says.
According to Leedom, a strong-willed child shows these characteristics:
Sound familiar? For me, this defines my youngest son perfectly.
On the show, Leedom broke down the developmental phases of children into 4 very simple stages and then offered ways for us to better understand these stages, and for parents to nurture all of these natural tendencies.
Stage 1, Year One – From birth, we are born to love. The first year of life is critical for our children to learn how to receive love and how to calm themselves when frightened. When we cuddle, nurse and hold our babies close, they feel the calming touch of a human. They coo and start making eye contact to help themselves communicate this love too. This is also the phase where they learn that parents make them feel better when the child is scared.
Stage 2, Year One – We learn caring for others also during that first year. This is a different form of love, one that projects outside of ourselves. This is when a child models caring behavior like petting an animal or mimicking parents by taking care of a baby doll. They understand what love is and begins to show that to others.
Stage 3, Year Two – The social dominance drive kicks in during the second year of life. This may be why we call them “The Terrible Twos” because it is at this stage where children start understanding what power is and their desire for that power goes into overdrive.
They are now struggling between the love they want with the power they also want. During the show, both Nixon and Leedom noted that’s why kids (mostly boys) this age make everything into a gun and why knives and fire are so fascinating. They all represent power. Leedom noted that this tendency toward guns and such is global and thus, probably innate in boys. Left unchecked, this power drive can overwhelm the love desire and that’s when things go bad.
One of the biggest indicators, beyond genetics, of the third stage – the power stage – is how a father behaves in the family. If he is domineering, overbearing or critical, this can lead to children mimicking this behavior and thus, tipping the love/power balance to power.
That’s when the anti-social behaviors begin such as stealing, intimidating and bullying. These behaviors, left unchecked, become the ADHD, addictions and anti-social behaviors (such as criminal behavior or worse) later in life.
Stage 4, Later in childhood – The reproductive drive arrives. This drive, Leedom says, is one that our society puts in our kids’ faces WAY too early. Her example is the lingerie store in her mall with the skimpy clothing and curvy mannequins. That is displayed in the window for her 8-year-old son to see. This is also why sexual abuse is so damaging; it introduces feelings and actions children are not developmentally ready for and have no idea how to deal with.
Leedom makes the point on Nixon’s show that our brains become trained by the patterns it uses and the neural patterns that are not used, die. That is why it is so very important for us to make sure we are working with our children (strong-willed or not) to nurture the right patterns in their brains.
Leedom does offer hope, though, even if your child is beyond the first stages of life. She says one of the biggest indicators to success is self-control. With her 8-year-old son, she actually has explained to him about this concept so he can understand his own impulses and the motivation behind them. He also understands his friends and classmates better too. She said he’ll actually come home from school and tell her about being tired and thus, impulsive at school. He understands what’s going on in his own brain.
Some other tools Leedom gives to parents to help with this love/power balance:
To hear the entire interview as well as Nixon’s previous shows, please visit the Parent’s Plate website on Toginet here. Also, check out Leedom’s book “Just Like His Father” at her website www.parentingtheatriskchild.com and Nixon’s book “The Birth to Five Book” on Amazon.]]>
“Look into my eyes…”
What do you think of when you hear that?
A gypsy fortune teller? The traveling apothecary salesman from “The Wizard of Oz”? Patrick Jane, the main character of the hit show “The Mentalist”?
Richard Barker is a professional stage and clinical hypnotist. He performs on stage across the country, amazing audiences with his ability to make people do anything he suggests, once they are put under hypnosis.
But besides performing, he can also really help people – families – who have challenges in their lives such as fears, smoking, ADHD, a stutter, even presentation skills, memory retention and making sales goals. He can also help with painless childbirth, a concept common in eastern countries but relatively new in the United States.
Barker first witnessed hypnosis while serving at age 17 in the British Army. During a stage show presented to help the troops fight boredom while stationed in Germany, the hypnotist made the gruff drill sergeant cry when anyone walked over the floor he had just mopped. Barker tells Family First watching the drill sergeant actually mopping was astounding in itself! Then to see him crying…Barker was fascinated.
Later, while working in Las Vegas as a disk jockey, Barker witnessed hypnosis again – let’s just say the trigger phrase was “Bud Light” – and he got the bug to learn.
After that captivating experience, Barker began studying under the well-known hypnotism instructor Jerry Kein in Florida. Kein told Barker he has a particularly powerful stare, making it easier for him to put people into a trance.
Hypnosis, according to Barker, is tapping into your subconscious mind. While conscious, the human brain only uses 20% of its capacity. The other 80% is the subconscious, which Barker describes as the “hard drive” of your life. Every moment of your life recorded until you pass on.
While hypnotized, you can find any “file” of your life upon suggestion. Barker gave the example of what you were wearing at your 5th birthday party. Most adults have absolutely no idea but under hypnosis, they can recall that as easily as what they are wearing at that moment.
While he says kids are easier to put under than adults, who are trying to rationalize too much, he really only likes to work with kids who are age 12 and above.
Some of the examples of afflictions Barker can help people deal with include fear of flying, fear of spiders, help with professional skills like making sales goals as well as medical conditions including ADD, ADHD, asthma and stuttering.
During his stage show, he can actually induce a stammer or stutter in someone to prove that he can easily remove it. During treatment, he helps the subject move back in time to the moment just before the stutter began so they can relive the experience with a new outcome through the power of Barker’s instruction. It’s basically like rewriting that memory.
This can be especially helpful for someone with a traumatic event such as abuse. During hypnosis, Barker helps that person imagine their abuser in handcuffs or somehow restrained so they are helpless. The victim is then able to confront that person, tell them how they feel and then forgive them, which Barker says is absolutely essential for the healing to begin.
While all of this may sound controversial and make you uncomfortable because it is non-traditional, Barker says his effectiveness rating is very strong. He says his smoking cessation program has a 100% effective rate due to the extensive time and work from the subject and his work with their medical doctor to help reinforce the program he uses.
Because there is such a variance in the skill levels of hypnotists, Barker recommends contacting him for reliable sources in your local area or for help from him or his product line. He offers CDs that can help you with self-hypnosis at home.
And just in case you were wondering – yes, your children actually are in a trance when watching television or playing video games, according to Barker. For that matter, so are you if you ever find yourself drifting while driving. Staring at a fixed point can actually put you in a trance.
To find out more about Barker, his shows and his skills please check out his website at www.incrediblehypnotist.com.
Photo courtesy of Cathy Heinz Photography]]>
What’s your biggest fear?
Losing your job? Getting divorced? That flight back home the holidays?
When the major stress of life hits, what is your first reaction? Anger? Fear? Withdraw? Escape?
If you really sit down and think through what’s happening, do you have a dialog in your head that plays out?
Charles H. Elliott and Laura L. Smith, PhDs and co-authors of “Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies” (Wiley, $21.99, 2010, ISBN 978-0-470-57441-6) present five questions to ask yourself when you have a strong worry about a specific issue:
By asking these questions of yourself, you can start thinking about the magnitude of your fear and how far-reaching this really is for your life.
While answering these questions may not make your fear completely disappear, they can help you tackle the issues and start to make a plan to help you cope.
Of course, these questions may not help at all. In cases of true disaster, these questions become a little irrelevant. According to the book, the worst-case scenarios include “severe illness, death, terror, natural disasters, disfigurement, major disabilities and the loss of a loved one.”
The example the doctors give in the book is dying in a plane crash. When you run through the five coping questions, all the answers are “no” – never dealt with it, the year from now doesn’t affect me because I’d be dead, don’t know anyone who’s been in a crash, no one can help you deal with the crash, no new opportunities because I’d be gone.
So, Elliott and Smith give what they call the “Ultimate Coping Questions”:
So now, after thinking through the real fear and the real outcome, you have at least brought yourself to that point of acceptance of the fear. You still may have the fear and you certainly don’t like the outcome but you will know you can deal with it.
Elliott and Smith say to try not to block out fears but think through them. Their recommendation is that if you have obsessive thoughts or paralyzing anxiety, you should seek professional help.
About Charles H. Elliott and Laura L. Smith
Charles H. Elliott, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and founding fellow of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. His specialties include children, adolescents and adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, anger, depression and personality disorders.
Laura L. Smith, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and adjunct faculty member at Fielding Graduate University. Her specialties include assessing and treating individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality disorders, depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disorders.
Both doctors have written many books and articles together. Their website is www.psychology4people.com and their blog is http://blogs.psychcentral.com/anxiety.]]>
It’s tough enough for kids to forge lasting friendships. Couple that with having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and it can be even more challenging.
A recent small study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology finds many children with ADHD can be rejected by peers within even just one day of contact.
“ADHD impairs a child’s perceptions and behavior and that’s bound to impact their ability to make and maintain friendships,” says Dr. Robert Reynolds, clinical psychologist and head of the Connecticut Educational Services in Middletown, Connecticut.
The study allowed each child to invite his or her best friend to the lab where the researchers observed their interactions. The group consisted of 66 boys age 7-13 with ADHD, 21 girls with ADHD and 46 comparison children without ADHD. Eighty-two percent of the children with ADHD were being treated with medication.
Researchers observed that the companion children to the children with ADHD displayed more ADHD symptoms and what they call “oppositional behavior” than compared to the children without ADHD and their friends.
Another interesting observation was that the children with ADHD were twice as likely to break the rules while playing in order to win. In general, the researchers observed that the friendships of children with ADHD were of lower quality and more transient.
“This study is really a red flag that we need to pay closer attention to the social development of children who suffer from ADHD,” said Reynolds. “Ignoring such issues can lead to a whole host of social and emotional problems as they get older. And remember, most of the children in this study who had ADHD were already on medication, indicating that certainly in the area of social skills, medications have virtually no benefit.”
Reynolds offers these 6 tips to parents for helping your child with ADHD form deeper, lasting friendships:
“There are many behavioral interventions that can go a long way toward helping your child with ADHD develop positive and meaningful relationships,” said Reynolds. “It’s a matter of providing your child with proper guidance and steering them toward the right kinds of corrective experiences.”
Reynolds is also a long-time supporter of non-medicinal treatments for behavior issues. Since 1978, he has used neurofeedback therapy.
“Pills are not the only treatment option available. Neurofeedback therapy has effectively reduced many of the symptoms of ADHD in countless children,” said Reynolds.
Neurofeedback therapy is computer-based training that helps children retrain their brains to become more aware of themselves and the needs of others. Through game-like computer programs, neurofeedback therapy helps regulate brainwave activity.
It can help with many kinds of behavioral, attention and learning challenges, including depression, ADHD and bi-polar disorders. For more information about Reynolds’ clinic please visit www.ct-ed.com.]]>
Whether you or someone in your family have insomnia, Restless Leg Syndrome, stress, anxiety, fibromyalgia, ADHD, autism, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or you just like to feel cuddly, Cozy Calm blankets can help you sleep. They can also help calm your children too!
In a special patented design, these weighted blankets feel like a “long hug” according to the website. Inventor Eileen Parker designed the blankets for herself after experiencing the calming of a weighted blanket during occupational therapy for her own autism and SPD. She was, however, greatly unsatisfied by the feel of the blankets themselves.
“It felt like I was on clouds. It was wonderful. But then I whipped it off because the fabric wasn’t right; it had bumps and lumps. From a sensory perspective, it was not very good. It kind of felt like I had a mattress on me,” Parker tells Family First.
She decided she could do it better so she began working with people who could sew to design a prototype. She had the design skills and they had the sewing skills. “From a feeling perspective, I had to have soft fabrics, and I wanted the blanket to be cuddly,” she says.
After several versions, she came upon the right design and now they are selling like crazy. She recently made the jump to wholesale after making the blankets solely on a custom basis since she started the business.
The weight is created by tiny plastic beads in several chambers sewn into the blankets so the beads don’t all collect in one area. The beads are made from medical-grade virgin plastic, the kind milk jugs are made from.
The weight of the blanket blocks the messages to the brain by overwhelming the sensory input from mental and physical stresses on the nervous system through a process called proprioceptive input. When these messages are blocked, the body can relax, calm itself and you begin to feel sleepy and calm.
While there has not been a large, comprehensive medical study done on this effect, according to Parker, there have been small studies that show this kind of therapy helps release calming neurotransmitters in the brain.
This is why the blankets can be very helpful for children – either with autism or not. She says she has had moms tell her the blankets really help with bedtime as well as with keeping kids asleep during the night. This makes moms happy too.
Parker does warn the blankets should never be used on a child younger than three years old.
Lap-sized blankets are also available. This size works great for kids at church, on long car rides or during dinners out. It helps them stay calmer and sit still longer.
In addition, they offer neck calmers for weight on your shoulders as well as standard bed sizes such as Queen and Full size. Because each blanket is custom-made, they ship between 4 and 7 days after ordering.
The blankets are available in 14 different colors – you can even choose one color for the top and bottom of the blanket for a two-tone effect. There is also a weight chart so you can decide which weight is best for you. They offer free replacement if you order a weight that doesn’t work for you. Also check with your insurance carrier or state programs; it’s possible they will cover the blanket.
So, if you’re plagued by insomnia, stress or any other sensory condition or you know of an autistic or ADHD child, a Cozy Calm blanket could help everyone sleep better.
Read more at www.cozycalm.com or on their blog at www.cozycalm.info where they offer specials, coupons and announcements. You can like them on Facebook here.]]>
(MIDDLETOWN, CT)- via Press Release – There is always a trendy way to explain a child’s misbehavior. The popular diagnosis today is bipolar disorder. Clinical Psychologist Dr. Robert Reynolds of Connecticut Educational Services in Middletown cautions that a quick jump to a bipolar diagnosis may exclude a more likely explanation for a child’s behavior such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
“One of the main problems is that parents take their child to a pediatrician who just isn’t equipped to do a comprehensive assessment,” said Dr. Reynolds. “Because ADHD and bipolar disorder do share some symptoms and sometimes can co-exist, children can be put on a powerful concoction of drugs that may worsen a child’s condition. In worst case situations, such as the one in Massachusetts that has recently been in the news, it can contribute to the death of the child!”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder is difficult to recognize and diagnose in children because it does not fit typical symptoms seen in adults. In addition, there are no diagnostic criteria or treatment protocols for childhood bipolar disorder, so children as young as four years old can be put on mood stabilizers, anti-psychotic medications or major tranquilizers when in fact, they could be suffering from something significantly less severe like ADHD or Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
Compounding this confusion is that these disorders share many characteristics including: impulsivity, inattention, hyperactivity, excessive physical energy, frequent behavioral and emotional changes, sleeplessness and learning problems.
Dr. Reynolds notes that the main differences between bipolar disorder and ADHD are:
“Similarities and differences aside, you don’t want a child to be labeled with a serious mental disorder when it could simply be the normal storm of adolescence or an overwhelmed parent struggling to handle an overly rambunctious child,” said Dr. Reynolds. “At Connecticut Educational Services, our approach in treating various mental and behavioral problems has always been skills before pills.”
Dr. Reynolds emphasizes that his approach treats the “whole child”, providing parents, school personnel and the child skills and interventions necessary to bring behavior under better control. “You can’t just give a child a pill and expect it to do the whole job,” he adds. “Even when medications help, that is when treatment should begin, not end.”
One of Dr. Reynolds’ most innovative and successful interventions in treating children with ADHD, ODD or bipolar symptoms is neurofeedback training. Individuals with these mental or emotional challenges often exhibit irregular brain wave patterns in certain areas of their cortex (surface of the brain). Once those problem areas are properly identified, Dr. Reynolds uses neurofeedback training to teach the child to regulate his brainwave activity in the targeted region through the use of game-like displays on a computer monitor.
“Simply stated, a child learns to control the activity of his brain to enhance mental conditioning and competence,” said Dr. Reynolds. “For them, it is like playing a video game with their mind. For parents, it can mean a dramatic improvement in their child’s behavior, emotional state and academic performance.”
Dr. Reynolds notes that EEG neurofeedback has been proven to help children with ADHD, bipolar disorder, autism and other learning and behavioral issues without the side effects that often accompany the use of medications.
About Dr. Reynolds
Dr. Reynolds has been on the leading edge of neurofeedback training since 1978 and was the first practice to offer the treatment in Connecticut. As a result, his clinic has become an important resource in helping students, families, schools and individuals cope with attention, learning and behavior challenges across the lifespan. Connecticut Educational Services utilizes the most advanced diagnostic and treatment techniques and provides all evaluations and treatments through highly trained licensed professionals.
Throughout the year, Dr. Reynolds provides free educational seminars for parents of children with mental health conditions, as well as in-service school training that focus on classroom behavior management. For a list of upcoming informational seminars or for more information, call Connecticut Educational Services at 860.343.0227 or visit www.ct-ed.com.]]>
(MIDDLETOWN, CT)- July 28, 2010- If your spouse perpetually forgets to pay the bills, loses focus when you’re speaking or neglects household chores, there may be a legitimate explanation: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Your other half’s behavior may have previously been considered lazy, inattentive or forgetful. However, it may be the result of a legitimate medical condition. Many children with ADHD fail to get diagnosed and treated properly which often means that the condition carries over into adulthood, creeping undetected into marriages.
Research suggests that adults with ADHD are twice as likely to get divorced. A number of studies have also found high levels of distress in 60 percent of marriages where one spouse had the disorder and had gone untreated.
“If one spouse is unaware that the other has ADHD, it is all-too-common to attribute their actions to selfishness or a lack of caring” said Clinical Psychologist Dr. Robert Reynolds. “Because this condition is so often overlooked in adults, divorce, unfortunately, is a frequent side effect.”
ADHD-affected couples often show up in a therapist’s office for marital trouble. Commonly, the spouse without ADHD ends up having to shoulder the lion’s share of the family responsibilities. “I need a partner but I often feel I feel like I’m raising another child”, is a common refrain often voiced in marriage counseling.
Even well-meaning therapists can miss the underlying condition if they have not had training or experience working with adults with ADHD which is why marital therapy is often unsuccessful with such couples. “Successful marital therapy begins with the proper diagnosis. Then, with the help of the therapist, a path out of the chaos can be created” according to Dr. Reynolds.
Dr. Reynolds holds seminars on the topic of adult ADHD and its multiple impacts upon marriage. He offers these warning signs that may be an indication your spouse suffers from ADHD:
“Such a high percentage of marriages end in divorce in this country. However, closer scrutiny regarding the underlying reasons leading to divorce may ultimately reveal an underlying case of ADHD in one of the spouses,”said Dr. Reynolds. “The good news is that ADHD is a very treatable condition. The bad news is that couples have a tendency to put off dealing with their problems until their marriage is in a state of crisis. The path to healing begins when both partners recognize that the problems are not going away and agree that treatment is necessary in order to preserve their marriage. And if children are involved, treatment becomes especially imperative.”
In addition to marital intervention for ADHD-affected couples, Dr. Reynolds advocates the use of a technique known as Neurofeedback therapy. Neurofeedback therapy is a powerful method for teaching individuals how to regulate their brainwave activity through the use of game-like displays on a computer monitor. It has proven to be an effective and permanent solution for treating a variety of conditions like ADHD when individuals are not interested in using medications.
“People don’t need to pop a pill to get better. I’ve seen countless cases in which counseling in conjunction with Neurofeedback therapy has been a powerful treatment combination and an effective alternative to medication.”
Dr. Reynolds’ clinic has become a sought after resource in helping students, families, schools and individuals cope with attention, learning and behavior challenges across the lifespan. For more information, visit www.ct-ed.com or call 860.343.0227.]]>
The name of the site is called Family Matters, and boy does it. This site is one that covers a wide variety of subjects on raising children, from child development to family values to education to childhood illnesses. Parenting is important because children matter. Here you can find out how to plan family vacations, or manage the family finances (the two are usually interelated).
There are two sections that deserve special attention. One is the section on ADHD & Ritalin. Being aware of the symptoms ADHD and what is being used to treat it can be helpful. There are many theories that Ritalin is over used, and educating yourself on it can be helpful. The second section is Biracial Children. Although in many ways biracial children and multiracial children are like any other kids, there are crucial issues that parents in mixed race families need to be aware of. The information contained here is informative and helpful.
This site provides outstanding information about raising children, and what it means to be a parent. It has quite a bit of data to digest, so keep it handy as a resource. It would be better to have it and not need it, rather than need it and not have it.
Today’s Family First site is focused on the National ADD Association. Their organizational mission is built around the needs of adults and young adults with ADD and ADHD. They also serve individuals with ADD, as well as those who love, live with, teach, counsel, and treat those who do. Here you will find resources, online help and referrals, all of which can be a great help if you or someone you know is affected by this disease.
My son has ADD. This site has been a blessing when my wife and I look for information on the reasons that he has been acting the way he has been lately. It is very difficult living with someone who has this, as medicine alone is not the answer. The resources here are very helpful.
Today’s FamSite is focused on the National ADD Association. Their organizational mission is built around the needs of adults and young adults with ADD and ADHD. They also serve individuals with ADD, as well as those who love, live with, teach, counsel, and treat those who do. Here you will find resources, online help and referrals, all of which can be a great help if you or someone you know is affected by this disease.
My son has ADD. This site has been a blessing when my wife and I look for information on the reasons that he has been acting the way he has been lately. It is very difficult living with someone who has this, as medicine alone is not the answer. The resources here are very helpful.