Monday, September 19, 2011

Special Guest Blogger: Things I Never Thought I Would Say to My Three Year Old

In February, our household grew exponentially, with the addition of my step-son, daughter in law, three year old Tristan, and one year old Colleen, two extra cats (making a total of FOUR four legged felines!) and a partridge in a pear tree. Life sure has changed, but I wouldn't trade it for the world!!! I am enjoying being a mum-mum of having a is a special guest blog by Tim....enjoy!!

When I was growing up I was told many things by my mother. Don’t touch the hot stove, don’t run with scissors, and stop making that face, or it will stick that way. On average I would have to say that most kids have heard that, or similar things as they were growing up. Those phrases heard through out your childhood, are what I consider a staple in our society; the very things I expected to be saying to my children.

 After many years my wife and I produced a child, a boy to be exact. Tristan is his name, and is very much like I was when I was a child. Doing the exact opposite of what you tell him to do, among a variety of other activities. Some activities are more dangerous than others obviously, but now I’m just rambling, on to the point.

One day I came into the living room from the kitchen to find my son on all fours trailing behind one of my cats. Much to my dismay, he had his nose right in the rear end of the cat. Of course you can imagine what ensued after that. Yep you guessed it “Get your nose out of the cats butt.” I said to him. He then looked up at me and asked,” Why? The cats smell each others butts.” I responded by telling him,” You’re not a cat.” We went back and forth for a few minutes then, I realized… I was arguing with a three year old. I quickly reminded him who was boss and told him that if he did it again he’d get a time out for it.

That was the beginning of a long line of things; I never thought I’d have to say to my three year old.

Timothy Louis is a 10 year Air Force veteran who recently relocated to the Newfoundland, PA area and is pursuing his Bachelor's Degree in Engineering. His essay "Things I Never Thought I Would Say to My Three Year Old" is a special to the Counseling Corner Blog. Hopefully it will become a regular feature!

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 11: 10 Years Later How to Live a Life Free of Fear

Terrorism is a sad fact of life for our generation. It has changed the way we think, the way we perceive our neighbors, how we travel, and how we live our everyday lives. How can you live a life free of fear?

On 9/11, our nation faced a serious and sobering truth: We are vulnerable to violence within our own borders. Terrorism is not just something that we see on the news, occurring in foreign countries. It's important to know that you can take control of your own fear, while remaining cautious and alert.

The best way you can conquer your fear is to arm yourself with knowledge and information. Next, some basic ways to be prepared and be alert will help you feel more secure. Preparing yourself for ANY emergency or disaster will help you feel more in control. And finally, a few simple strategies to help you relax and avoid focusing on fearful thoughts, can help you calm your fears when they arise.

Understand Terrorism and its Psychology

*The goal of terrorism is to create fear and terror in a nation’s population in order to achieve political goals. While we must be alert and aware of our surroundings, we cannot give in to the fear and hide. This will simply reinforce the terrorists goals and they win (and we KNOW that, as Americans, we don't like to lose!)

*It is true that a lot has changed in our country, and the world, following 9/11. Educate yourself about changes in security. Knowing why these changes have been made and how they can help keep us safe is important, so that you don't feel that we are having your rights taken away.

*Above all, it's important to realize that there are people whose job is to keep track of these threats and take action to foil terrorist plots. Indeed, most terrorists plans are foiled by vigilance and good detective work. People like us can help by being aware and reporting things that don't seem "right" to the proper authorities and local police.

Understand the Odds

*While you may be anxious and worry that you will be the victim of a terrorist attack, the actual risk is very small. You are more likely to be injured in a car accident than be the victim of an attack. Your energy should be focused on the present circumstance and safety doing everyday things such as driving and walking down the street.

*Be prepared for ALL emergencies. As we have seen in the last month, you can be exposed to a variety of crises, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding. Being prepared for any of the scenarios is important. Have an emergency plan to communicate with family and friends, stock up on extra food and water, have an ample supply of medicines, etc. This can greatly minimize your anxiety and help you take control.

Understand anxiety and how to decrease it

Here are some commonsense ways to handle anxiety:

*Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to increased anxiety and increased caffeine intake, which can make you feel more anxious and jittery.

*Exercise has been shown to decrease anxiety and life your mood, and improve your overall health.

*Avoid excess sugar and caffeine.

*Take a relaxing warm bath.

*Practice meditation or deep breathing exercises...the body cannot have an anxiety attack if you are breathing deeply.

*Simplify your schedule and prioritize your responsibilities.

*Engage in activities you enjoy, sports, hobbies and spending time with friends and family can increase your positive emotions and decrase anxiety. (Go PHILLIES!)

*Talk to a friend. Talking can be one of the best ways to get "out of your head" and express how you are feeling.

While I can't guarantee that you will always be 100% worry-free, using the strategies I have shared can help decrease your level of anxiety and allow you to live without the deep fear that can accompany events such as 9/11. If you are having a difficult time coping, and don't know where to turn, ASK A PSYCHOLOGIST!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September 11: 10 Years Later - Talking to Chidren about 9/11

Today's installment of Counseling Corner takes a look at how to talk to your children about September 11, and about terrorism in general.

As we, through this difficult and emotional week leading up to the 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sunday, please consider these important issues when interacting with our children.

1. Children may have no interest or little understanding of what is going on. Remember, that while 9/11 changed the world and the way we live in it, children under 10 have no frame of reference for this, and children under 5 probably don't have a clear memory of that day.  It has simply been the world they live in. Do not assume they know what the world was like pre-September 11, or what happened that day.

2.  Monitor what your child is watching on television and on the Internet. As always, be aware of what your child is watching on television or viewing on the Internet. You can set your DVR to pre-record newscasts so that you screen them for your children, and be prepared to answer questions about what they see. Better yet, turn off the tube for the week, and go do something fun with your kids! We can very easily get sucked back into watching the news stories and images all over again.

3. Find out what your child knows before talking about 9/11 or terrorism. We may assume that because it was such an earth-shattering event, that everyone knows about 9/11 and terrorism. Children may have knowledge about this, but assessing how much they know before giving them detailed information is critical. Moreover, what you tell them will depend on their age, maturity level, and knowledge.

4. Listen to your child and let him know you understand his feelings. Don't feel like you have to talk and talk, sometimes it is best to just sit and listen. Hearing scary stories and seeing violent images can cause children to feel fearful and can even cause nightmares. Listening to your child and letting them know you understand how they feel ("You seem to be afraid by what you heard. I will keep you safe").

5. Answer her questions. Children may have questions - even some questions we can't answer. Be honest, keep it simply, and use accurate but non-emotional or violent language. If you don't know the answer, say so. You don't have to know it all.

6. Keep to routines and schedules. Kids need routines and need to know what to expect. Even though this week may contain special events, or telecasts, it's important to keep the focus at home.  Allowing children to watch their normal television shows, helping with homework and keeping to set bedtimes is important in developing a sense of safety and security.

7.  Allow children to be children!  Gt your children outside to play, run and get out excess energy. As a general rule, not just this week, kids need physical exercise and to develop play skills, teamwork, sharing and imagination. Exercise can also help with sleep and decrease anxiety. Limit television to a few favorite, appropriate shows.

8. Let your son or daughter know that they are safe. Children need to feel safe and secure. Reassure them that you will keep them safe from harm and will worry about those bad things, so they dont' have to. Sometimes, just a hug can help children feel secure and loved.

9. If your child is having nightmares, is fearful  to leave the house, or is otherwise having difficulties, and you don't know what to do, ASK A PSYCHOLOGIST!

The link below will take you to a video starring Linda Ellerbee called “What Happened? The Story of September 11, 2001.” and aired on YouTube and Nickelodeon website to address children and explaining what happened on 9/11. This video was created through a partnership between Nickelodeon and the American Psychological Association. Please note how this video gives an honest and clear explanation of the event, but also focuses on the positives, those saved, and the spirit of the New Yorkers on that day.

You can view the Press Release discussing the video as well as the video below. (Clicking this link will take you away from Counseling Corner).

Monday, September 5, 2011

September 11: 10 Years Later

As we approach the 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Shanksville, we will reflect on what happened on that tragic day, and remember. This will involve a renewed focus on the video footage of the planes hitting the Towers. Indeed, in watching television yesterday, I was reminded of the shocking moment of impact. It made me very sad, but also aware that I have not been so jaded that it no longer had an effect.

As we look back, from a psychological perspective, we must take into account several things.

1) Many of our children are too young to remember, and are seeing it for the first time. They may have questions, feel scared, and rely on YOU, as their parents and caregivers, to provide an explanation, assurance and safety.
2) Terrorism is a fact of life for our generation. It has changed the way we think, the way we perceive our neighbors, how we travel, and how we live our everyday lives.  How can you live a life free of fear?
3) Many of those who witnessed the attacks, even on television, have suffered a traumatic reaction. What is Post Traumatic Stress and how can it be treated?

As we embark on this emotional week, let's reflect, remember, and learn. I hope you will follow my blog this week and that you find something helpful in it.  As always, if you or someone you know needs help, ASK A PSYCHOLOGIST.


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