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Could My Child Have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

31 Jul

OCDIn my clinical practice, I have seen a number of children and adolescents who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Here are different examples of how OCD presented in 3 of my clients:

(1) A 15-year old teenage girl reported that she had an uncomfortable feeling inside telling her something was not okay or not quite right. She had developed all kinds or rituals to get rid of that feeling so that she could continue on with her day. worried_teen_girl_at_homeFor example, she had to flush the toilet handle multiple times and repeatedly turn the faucet sink handles, turn the lights on and off repeatedly, check and re-check her hair iron to make sure it was off, do certain things an even number of times only, and perfectly align and order her clothes in her closet and in her drawers. 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

How to Help Your Child or Teen Develop a Positive Body Image

19 Nov

Kids-sun-means-youthsWith so much talk nowadays about food, diets, shape, and weight, it can be confusing as a parent to know how to help your child develop positive feelings about their body, no matter what size they are. Body image disturbances can begin as early as preschool, and can have lasting impacts. Why is it so important for children and teens to have a positive image of their body? Because young people with a positive body image are more self-confident in general and are less likely to develop eating disorders or weight-related problems such as obesity, or other emotional problems like anxiety or depression. While body image in children and teens is influenced by many different sources – including family, friends, and the media – parents play a pivotal role in helping to promote positive body image at an early age. Continue Reading

The 5-Minute Mindfulness Challenge for You and Your Child or Teen

31 Aug

SchoolZonebypixbox77It’s that time of the year already when summer has come to an end and the new school year is about to or has already begun. That means getting back into the daily routine and to busy schedules, back to studying, homework, and extra-curricular activities, back to traffic, long days at work, and seemingly endless household chores. Along with the change in routine from summer to fall comes shorter days, less time for fun and leisure, greater demands and deadlines to meet, and unfortunately, more stress (which can be both good and bad). Sometimes it may seem as if there is so much happening and at such a fast pace that one barely has a free moment to slow down and just BE. 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

Help for the Anxious Child, Anxious Teen, and Anxious Parent: Part 2

22 Mar

AnxietyFearPuzzlebyStuartMilesIn a previous post Help for the Anxious Child, Anxious Teen, and Anxious Parent, I shared the importance of building your own toolkit and your child’s toolkit for coping with anxiety. The focus of that post was on learning how to calm down the body by changing your breathing.

In another earlier post, I shared one of my favourite techniques for containing and placing a time limit on worries and anxiety, entitled The Worry Jar Technique: Help Your Child Overcome Worries and Anxiety. While this strategy is very helpful for children, it can also be adapted for parents and teens by for instance, writing anxious thoughts and worries in a journal.

So now that you have a good foundation, let’s add some more helpful strategies to your toolkits. Continue Reading

The Teenage Brain: Understanding Adolescents and Their Risky Behaviours

14 Mar

GroupofFriendsonTheSquarebyVladoThe teenage years have forever been characterized as a time of turmoil and change. It is during adolescence that youth are trying to discover who they are, where they belong, their likes and dislikes, and what they want for their futures. In order to exert their increased independence and to help prepare adolescents for adulthood, teens will pull away from their parents and move towards their peer groups. Indeed, the majority of the adolescents I have worked with are incredibly loyal to and protective of their friends (sometimes caring more about their buddies than about themselves).

An aspect of adolescence that is often concerning to parents (and to adults in general) is teenagers’ tendency to engage in experimentation and risky behaviours as part of this self-discovery process. Continue Reading

Psychological Testing of Your Child Explained

23 Feb

ChildrenBigPencilbyBoiansChoJooYoungTeachers and school administrators often ask parents to have their child psychologically tested because of questions and concerns they have about a child in the classroom, such as distractibility, poor attention, behavioral problems, hyperactivity, learning difficulties, and social or emotional problems. While parents may also share similar concerns about their child, it can seem overwhelming for a parent to be asked to pursue formal psychological testing. Understandably, parents want to know what exactly does testing entail and whether it is necessary.

In a previous post entitled, Does My Child Have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?, I mentioned that a comprehensive evaluation for ADHD includes psychological testing in order to determine a proper diagnosis and to come up with a treatment plan specific to your child’s needs.

In this post, I will explain what is involved in psychological testing (also known as a psychological assessment). Continue Reading

How to Effectively Communicate with Your Teen: 7 Parenting Tips

16 Feb

GirlwithUnhappyMother In my clinical work with troubled teenagers, it is often the case that there is a real communication breakdown between these adolescents and their parents. These teens often feel that their parents do not understand or respect them, do not listen to what they have to say, and cannot relate to their experiences. They may report feeling isolated and closed off from their families, rejected, hurt, angry, anxious, sad, and lonely. In general, these adolescents have built up a “protective wall” between them and their parents (and sometimes the rest of the adult world) behind which they retreat. Because of problems with trust, these teens do not easily let their walls come down or let others see their vulnerabilities and insecurities.

It is important for you, as a parent, to keep the communication doors open with your teen. There are steps you can take to help maintain open communication. 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