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Ask Joe

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Ask Joe
Think “Dear Abby” for a new generation. Each newsletter I will select one or more questions to answer. So if you have a parenting or mental wellness question, please send it my way. I’m sure others have the same question and could benefit. joe@mentalwellnesscounseling.com Dear Joe,
There is so much in the news these days about sexual orientation and tolerance in schools and communities (anti-bullying, etc.) and I’ve seen videos about people who knew at a very young age that they were “different” but never know how to deal with it, or what it meant. How should a parent talk to a child about “being gay” if they suspect that their child may show signs of homosexuality? A parent wouldn’t want to frighten a child by insinuating this about them, but wants them to know that they are loved and accepted no matter what. How do you think such a conversation could go?
Please Help- Traverse City, MI

Dear Please Help,
Thanks for this question. Yes, this is a topic that many parents are concerned about. As well, we as a community need to look at this issue, especially because suicide amongst GLBTQ teens is shown to be higher. I think that there is a three-prong approach regarding the topic of homosexuality and talking with your kids.

1. Create an environment that is conducive to conversations about the issue. If someone in your home, on TV, or somewhere else says something like, “That’s so gay” meaning “That’s so stupid” correct them. As you work to create a home where it is safe to discuss these issues, it makes questions of homosexuality or really any difficult conversation easier for your child. No matter what your beliefs about homosexuality or faith perspective, you want your kids to be able to talk with you about the issues they are concerned about.

2. Engage in non-threatening conversation. There’s a reason that schools start with birds and bees before they teach kids the whole story. It helps kids learn the whole context of sexuality. As a result, it is also healthy to take this approach when there are gay characters on TV, movies, or in the headlines. For example, Traverse City just had a vote on an ordinance regarding GLBTQ issues surrounding employment and housing. Asking your kids about their thoughts on these types of things can be a non-threatening way to discuss the issue. Also, talking about characters in TV, what they are thinking, how they are acting, and what your kids think are important. Rather than just telling them what you think, tech them to think. Part of your role as a parent it to teach your child how to engage in the world as a thinking citizen.

At the heart of these discussions is that your kids should feel that they are being listened to. If your child tells their thoughts, only to be told that they are not correct, they will be less likely to ask you questions. Do you want them going to their friends instead? Who knows what kind of misinformation they may get. So make sure you are educated on the issue and if you are not sure, just tell your child, “I don’t know, but let’s research it together.”

3. Don’t press the issue. Once you have created a sound environment and showed that questions are ok, let you child make steps in their decisions as to how to express their sexuality. For them, they may need time to process their sexuality. Mentioning that you will always love them no matter what can be helpful, as long as it does not come out of no where, but in the context of a conversation. Some kids come out in high school, others college, others may be straight, but just are more effeminate. During this time of stepping back, educate yourself as much as you can.

I hope that helps.

-Joe

Have a question for Joe? Email him and ask, what’s stopping you? Really, you know you want to:
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Setting a Good Example
From http://parenting.org/article/setting-good-example
We often hear the expression, “Children are like sponges,” uttered by parents, grandparents, educators and counselors. This phrase captures the reality that children are always learning from what they see and hear, and that the vast majority of what they learn comes from watching their parents. Parents can model a variety of behaviors to their children, including how to behave appropriately when angry.
Role Modeling and Anger
Anger is a naturally occurring emotion that cannot be avoided. All kinds of circumstances can trigger it. Parents model for their children how, and how not, to manage anger every day. Parents teach their children to manage anger well when they remain calm, cool and collected even when they’re upset over a circumstance or behavior. Parents teach their children how to manage anger poorly when they yell, become aggressive, throw things, slam doors or swear in response to angry emotions.
Wherever you fall in the spectrum of being a good or poor manager of your anger, here are six valuable strategies that can help you improve your and your child’s behavior.
1.    Make a list. Think about instances where you managed your anger well and times when you didn’t. Record when and where those times happened, and who and what tends to set you off.
2.    Evaluate your behavior. Assess the reasons behind the times when you managed your anger well. Identify what helped you control your anger.
3.    Assess your anger. Reflect on situations when you are likely to become angry and not manage your anger well. Determine if you tend to lose your temper at certain times of day, with certain people or in certain circumstances.
4.    Watch yourself. Pay attention for a few days to how you act when you are angry or frustrated. Ask yourself if the behavior you display when you’re angry is something you want your child to imitate. Decide to practice good behavior and discontinue bad responses to anger.
5.    Express yourself. Decide how you can express yourself better when you are angry. Think of and practice situations that typically make you angry. Then visualize yourself having a positive, rather than negative, response.
6.    Communicate. Tell your child that you are working to manage your anger better. Apologize if you have mistreated him or her when you felt angry. Tell your child you will do your best to act differently in the future. Make a commitment to change.
Another good tactic is to ditch the age-old saying, “Do as I say and not as I do.” It doesn’t help you be a better parent and it doesn’t help your child grow into a responsible, successful adult. Understand that children most often copy what they see and not what they hear. Commit to being a positive role model for your child to imitate. Let your children see you manage your anger in a positive way by expressing it appropriately and calmly, without raising your voice or your hand. Doing so will speak louder than angry words ever could.
Do you agree?


Resources
This is a great “Happiness Quiz” that will give you resources and ideas on how to improve happiness. A lot of the suggestions are based on strong research: http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/happiness-quiz/

That’s it for now. Do good to others and keep in touch!

-Joe

 

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

Tired Parents

 

Counseling "Traverse City"
Counseling "Traverse City"

 

Ask Joe
Think “Dear Abby” for a new generation. Each newsletter I will select one or more questions to answer. So if you have a parenting or mental wellness question, please send it my way. I’m sure others have the same question and could benefit. sanokcounseling@gmail.com

Dear Joe,
I have a toddler will not take naps. They are clearly tired but it is always a fight. Usually he falls asleep, but it is always a battle. Any suggestions?
-Tired Parent in Kalamazoo, MI

Dear Tired Parent,
There are a few factors to take into account. First you’ll want to watch for sleep signs and second you will want to monitor overall sleep patterns. Kids in the 0-5 range give a number of clues they are tired well before they are cranky. Our 5-month daughter will scratch her ears, rub her eyes, yawn, and just seem to be slowing down. As kids grow, they want to stay engaged so they fight the body’s natural slow down. We as parents need to be asking ourselves if they are slowing down or waking up? If they are slowing down, we need to reduce stimuli and make it easier to transition into sleep. Some parents are fearful of stopping a TV show or activity if they see sleep signs. But this is a very important step. Imagine if your child was extremely hungry, you would try and give them a snack. Sleep is the same kind of need.

Second, in the book and blog “Happy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Dr. Weissbluth (see www.weissbluthmethod.wordpress.com), he discusses how sleep perpetuates sleep. Therefore, if your child is going to bed too late, it will hurt nap time routines. Most kids need 12-14 hours of sleep. This isn’t just 0-5 year olds, older kids need 10-12 too! When the overall sleep plan is developed, while also looking at sleep signs, the nap time ritual should get easier.

-Joe

Have a question for Joe? Email him and ask, what’s stopping you? Really, you know you want to:
Click here to ASK JOE 

Sixth-Grade Developer Teaches Students How to Make Apps
http://www.good.is/post/this-sixth-grade-developer-is-teaching-students-how-to-make-apps/

Where can today’s students go to learn how to make an app? That’s the question Thomas Suarez, a sixth-grader from suburban Los Angeles, asked himself after realizing that most of his peers like to play games and use apps, but schools don’t teach the basic programming skills needed to make them. So Suarez, who taught himself how to make apps using the iPhone software development kit—he created the anti-Justin Bieber, Whac-a-Mole-style game “Bustin Jieber”—decided to start an app club at school.

Suarez has been a technophile since kindergarten, and he already knows several programming languages. At a recent TEDx conference, he explained how students in the app club get the opportunity to learn and share their app making with each other. The club even asked the school’s teachers what kinds of apps they could use in the classroom and then set out to design them.

Why isn’t an app club standard fare at schools like French or drama clubs? It would allow students to learn both problem-solving skills and programming basics in a practical, fun way. Let’s hope Suarez’s app club idea spreads so that more kids can make the transition from app user to app developer. Do you agree?


R
esources
Get some great free music through Groove Shark (www.grooveshark.com). It uses an online playlist, so it is not illegal. My daughter really likes Johnny Cash’s Children’s Albumn.

That’s it for now. Do good to others and keep in touch!

-Joe

 

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

Giving Good Instructions to Children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Joe
Think “Dear Abby” for a new generation. Each newsletter I will select one or more questions to answer. So if you have a parenting or mental wellness question, please send it my way. I’m sure others have the same question and could benefit. joe@mentalwellnesscounseling.com

Dear Joe,
I have taken away my child’s TV, but I still see them watching it when I get home from work. I give consequences and they won’t do them, any strategies?
-Frustrated in Traverse City

Dear Frustrated,
There are several approaches that may work. Rather than take away TV time when you are not there, try and institute changes when you are available. For example, say your child rolls her eyes and says something to you that warrents a consequence. Say to them, “Because you rolled your eyes and did not accept my decision tonight you will not have TV. However, you can choose to clean the bathroom as your consequence instead.” By giving them a choice, they are more likely to follow through.

If you have not been consistent in the past, your child will not expect you to follow through. Often times, parents feel they need to justify or convince their children. However, your actions of giving positive and negative consequences will speak much louder than anything you say. By building your skills and consistency, you are showing your child that you are someone they can trust. Good parenting leads to feelings of security and trust.
-Joe

Have a question for Joe? Email him and ask, what’s stopping you? Really, you know you want to:
Click here to ASK JOE 

Giving Good Instructions to Children

From www.parenting.org
Author:

Deanne C. Haisch, M.A., LMHP

Does getting your child to do something feel like an impossible task? One of the reasons may be the way in which you are asking. Children are not necessarily receptive to the types of verbal instruction that we use with our spouse, colleagues or other adults. Instructions for children must be given in a way that they understand. Below are some helpful hints on how to give kids instructions that will make both you and your child more successful.

Get your child’s attention – Make sure that you have your child’s attention before you give a direction. You should be within three feet of your child so you can talk in a normal or calm voice. This helps your child know that you are talking to him/her. You can get your child’s attention by calling his/her name, making eye contact, or turning off the lights.

  • Be clear and concise – Instructions should be short and to the point. The fewer words the better. A good guide is one word per year of life. (ex. Instruction for a two-year-old might be “shoes on”; where a five-year-old might be “go get your shoes on”). If there are too many words, it becomes more difficult for the child to know what is expected. The instruction should also be free of vague words.
  • Give one instruction at a time – Do not give your child a long list of instructions. When you give more than one instruction at one time, your child may forget, not understand, or feel overwhelmed.
  • Be realistic – Give your child instructions that you know he/she can follow. For example, do not expect a 3-year-old to get completely dressed by him/herself.
  • Be positive – Let your child know what you want them to do rather than not to do. When we only describe the negative behavior “don’t run” we still leave many other options available (skipping, hopping, etc.). Telling the child what we want them to do “walk, please.” Does not allow for any other options.
  • Don’t ask, tell – Do not ask your child to do something. Instead, tell your child in a firm but pleasant voice what you want them to do. Do not say “will you go brush your teeth?” To the child this implies that they have a choice. Instead, say “go brush your teeth.”
  • Reward compliance – let your child know that he/she did a good job following the instruction. Praise your child. The more you praise your child the better the chances that he/she will follow directions in the future.

Examples of Good Instructions:

  • John, give me the truck.
  • Lindsey, go wash your hands.
  • Dylan, look at the book.
  • Taylor, put three blocks in the bucket.
  • Jessie, walk next to me.

Resources
Learn about kids and sleep:
http://www.sleepforkids.org/
http://kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/body/not_tired.html

That’s it for now. Do good to others and keep in touch!

-Joe

 

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

Four Parenting Tips

Counseling Traverse City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Parenting Tips

Parenting can be so complex, here are some quick tips to get you going:

1. Start observing: When you review your child’s behavior, what do you see, hear, and observe. What is your starting point? Once you establish the description of behavior, it will be easier to determine what you want to change. What is normal for them? Do they do the behavior one time a day, hour, week?

2. What are they getting?: Kids do behaviors for a reason, it is your job to figure out what that reason is. Are they avoiding something? Gaining something? Usually they are trying to gain something positive or avoid something negative. After you know what they are doing (step 1) and know what they are getting/avoiding, you can create a plan.

3. Plan for change: You want to make your path the easier path for your child. This can be through setting up positive consequences (privileges or praise) or negative consequences (chores and time away from things they like). Once you start your plan, you will want to see how you are doing.

4. Review how you and your child are doing: After you begin your plan, check in with your child. Say something like, “A week ago you were saying ‘no’ 2-3x per day, but I’ve noticed that it has really gone down.” Also, evaluate your own consistency and quality.

Starting with these four steps are a great way to start working on specific behaviors.

If this newsletter got forwarded to you, you can sign up to get each and every issue, www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com

Resources
This is a great video about our changing world and what it will take for our kids to get jobs! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SuNx0UrnEo

That’s it for now, keep in touch!

-Joe

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.