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New Resource to Help Your Child Cope with Sadness: When Monkey Lost His Smile

25 Mar

Monkey-front-cover

You may have noticed that I have written fewer posts over the past few months. The reason is I was busy doing a very different kind of writing. I want to tell you about how I came to be the author of my first therapeutic resource book for young children on sadness.

A little over a year and a half ago, I was introduced through a colleague to Elaheh Bos, a very talented children’s author and illustrator. I collaborated with her on A spot of blue, a resource book for children (ages 4 to 8) on anxiety, gave feedback and insights on strategies to help with this emotion, and wrote the foreword. Not too long thereafter, I collaborated with her on a second project, The tiger in my chest, another therapeutic resource book for children (ages 4 to 8) on anger. For this book, I wrote the Anger Management Strategies section and I must admit that I really enjoyed the process of writing, explaining, and essentially teaching young children how to tame their anger.

Well along the way, something happened that I was not expecting. Not only did I discover a passion for writing, but I developed a desire to be the author of my own therapeutic resource book for children. Continue Reading

How to Tell if Your Child or Teen Has an Eating Disorder?

31 Jan

What are Eating Disorders?

Eat_or_diet_signsEating disorders (EDs) in children and adolescents are serious psychological conditions that cause changes in eating habits and can lead to serious or even life threatening health problems.

There are three main types of eating disorders:
1. Anorexia nervosa, a condition in which a child refuses to eat adequate calories out of an intense and irrational fear of becoming fat and subsequently becomes underweight
2. Bulimia nervosa, a condition in which a child eats large quantities of food (binge eating) and then purges the food by vomiting or using laxatives to prevent weight gain
3. Binge eating disorder, a condition in which a child engages in binge eating, but without purging

What are the Signs of an Eating Disorder in Children and Teens?

Eating disorders typically develop during adolescence or early adulthood. However, they can start in childhood too. They are much more common in girls, but do affect boys as well. Continue Reading

Could My Child or Teen Be Depressed?

30 Jun

miserableboybySimonHowdenIt seems to me that the term “depressed” is often loosely used to describe an intense feeling of sadness. Sometimes teenage clients will say “I feel depressed” to express that they feel down, blue, lonely, discouraged, disappointed, or very sad. While sadness is certainly a normal feeling generally experienced in response to some kind of loss or rejection, chronic feelings of sadness over an extended period of time (and often accompanied by other problems) can become a genuine concern. It is understandable then that parents, who see changes in their child’s mood and behaviour, may wonder whether their child or teenager can be suffering from depression. Indeed, children and teenagers can be diagnosed with depression (also known as a Major Depressive Disorder) Continue Reading

Feelings Thermometer: A Helpful Tool for You and Your Child

26 May

cartoonnursebyiosphereWhen do you traditionally pull out the thermometer to take your child’s temperature? Perhaps when your child does not seem to be behaving like themselves, such as when they are more lethargic, irritable, or when your child feels hot to the touch, looks pale, or when they express they are not feeling well.

Depending on what the thermometer reads, your reaction will likely be different, right? Suppose you find your child has a high fever. As a parent, you may decide to immediately call the doctor, give medicine to lower the temperature, have your child take a cool bath, and rest. If the temperature is ‘slightly above normal,’ you may monitor the situation and take the temperature again. You may still keep your child home and give medicine but you may not feel it is necessary to call the doctor. Finally, if your child’s temperature is ‘normal,’ you may decide to simply continue with your child’s regular daily routine and reassess later in the day.

It is clear that the thermometer is a useful tool that tells us important information about your child’s current physical health. So now imagine applying this tool to measure your child’s feelings or current mental health state. Continue Reading

How You and Your Teen Can Quiet the Inner Critic

19 Jan

fireheadbysalvatorevuonoWhy is it that we are our own worst critics? Why do we say such mean things to ourselves and call ourselves names (e.g., “fat”, “ugly”, “stupid”, “not good enough”, “failure”, etc) when we would never dare to say such awful things to our closest friends or acquaintances? Unfortunately, we often allow ourselves and somehow give ourselves permission to be so self-critical. We tend to be more understanding and to have more compassion for others than we do for ourselves. Indeed, it seems a lot easier to give compliments to others than to accept and to believe the compliments we hear.

Is there a purpose to this self-criticism? Yes. The answer is motivation. The reason we can be so judgemental and critical is to motivate us to change. Continue Reading