Category: Blog

How to Avoid After School Meltdowns

Do you find yourself walking on eggshells when your child gets home from school? Do you dread asking them to do anything, for fear that it will cause an explosion? Does your child seem irritable, anxious and exhausted at the end of the school day? Follow our helpful tips below to avoid the dreaded afterschool meltdown. 

The Do’s and Don’ts to Prevent After School Meltdowns 

The school year has kicked off, and for many kids, the honeymoon period is over. They are fully immersed in their classes and unfortunately, this is when things start to unravel. Going to school can be really hard for many kids; the social situations can be overwhelming and anxiety provoking, they may have difficulties sitting still and focusing, and the rules and responsibilities can be stressful. Many kids are able to hold it together all day long, and save up their most difficult behaviors for when they get home. Whether they’re refusing to do their homework, or throwing full blown tantrums, parents are often at a loss for how to respond. The good news is, we can help you make simple changes that will bring peace to your home by following our after school Do’s and Don’ts.

DO…
  • Give your child some downtime. Kids need time away from the rules and structure of the school day. Allow them to play and unwind on their own terms, before you start the after school routine.
  • Feed your child. Many children come home starving and dehydrated, which can lead to irritability and crabbiness. Get ahead of the hangry monster by having a snack and some water ready.
  • Remember that your child isn’t trying to be disrespectful or defiant. If it was easy for them to respond in a different way, they would. Understand that the school day can be anxiety producing and their feelings are being reflected in their behavior. If you’re following the Fair but Firm program, you can be empathetic, but also hold them accountable for undesirable behaviors through the use of consequences.
  • Stay rational. When you are calm, it is contagious. If you catch yourself raising your voice, it is very possible that you will unintentionally escalate an already volatile situation. If you feel like you are losing your temper, take a few minutes to give yourself a break and recharge.
  • Give Times. If you are following the Fair but Firm Program, and your child is being defiant, arguing with you or yelling – give them a Time. This will help your child reset and become rational.
  • Game Nights! Game Nights are a great opportunity to connect the family and create a positive experience.

DON’T…

  • Interrogate your child about their day. Delivering a series of rapid fire questions can be annoying and trigger an angry response. A simple greeting – “It’s so good to see you” – followed by some space is a good way connect and allow them to decompress. You can save the questions for later.  Better yet, have them ask you questions.  Ask your Behavioral Consultant about the skill “Conversations”.
  •  Take all of your child’s privileges away. Because you are a human, it’s understandable that you may get very frustrated with your child’s behavior. At times, you may get so frustrated that you overact and your instinct is to take away everything. This can backfire as your child may get the attitude “well, now I have nothing to lose”, which can actually make the behavior worse. You want them to see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel if they make it through the rest of the day. This is a great time to call your Behavioral Consultant to determine appropriate consequences for your child’s behaviors.
  • Make your child’s homework your problem. Homework is an extension of what kids are already learning in school, and it’s not your responsibility to make sure they get it done. If homework becomes a battle, issue a consequence and let the school handle the rest. If this becomes a chronic problem, speak with your behavioral consultant so we can help.  If you are using the Fair But Firm Program, we have a more effective technique to get your child to do their homework. If you are not there yet, don’t fret, you will be soon.
  • Be hard on yourself if not everything goes as planned. There are going to be days where your child doesn’t do their homework, eats cereal for dinner, and you just don’t have the fight in you to deal with getting them showered. THAT’S OKAY! Remind yourself that you’re doing a great job and try to recall 1 or 2 things that went right during the day; it can be something as simple as your child letting his/her sibling sit in the front seat without a fight or you were able to share a laugh over something funny.

With increased social and academic pressures at school, it’s no wonder kid’s return home in a less than pleasant state. If you’re applying the aforementioned strategies and still struggling, reach out to us! We are here to help you.

What Colleges, Services, or Websites Exist to Support Students with Disabilities?

We received this question during our “Options After High School for Children with Disruptive Behaviors” webinar. The answer is a complicated, “It depends,” but here are a few thoughts so you are not starting from zero.

 

Step 1. High School Academic Advisors or Counselors

Start with your child’s school’s academic advisor or counselor. As with most things, some advisors are better than others.  We have seen very talented advisors look at a child’s field of interest (marine biology) and recommend one university over another because one program is heavy in math (the child’s weakness) while the other focuses on science (the child’s strength).  A good advisor has access to the data from your child’s high school and may be able to use that information to guide them to academic programs that play to your child’s strengths.

 

Step 2.  Options Fairs

The Options Fairs offer students with special needs and their families the opportunity to meet with colleges, universities, and agencies that can provide services after high school. These fairs cover areas such as:  Educational Options, Employment Assistance, Vocational Programs, Government Programs, Health Services, Legal Resources, Recreational Services, Referral Sources, Residential Programs, and Transportation Services.  All of these can be helpful when setting up the safety net for your young adult with learning and/or emotional disabilities.

Many areas have fairs now that are geared toward both college options and vocational options so that students can learn more about each.  A Google search of “Options Fair” provided a list of several in our area.  Including one that is occurring this coming April 11th in Lake County (Illinois).  Similar events happen around the country.

 

Step 3.  Google What You Specifically Need

A quick Google search can provide fruitful information, so you are not starting from zero.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

 

 

This also depends on what your child’s special needs are.  For example, some schools have special programs specifically for dyslexia.  Doing a Google search for schools that cater to the specific disability might really narrow the list quickly.

It is unlikely that any college is going to tout their services for students with disruptive behavioral issues.  They don’t put that in the glossy brochures, but there are colleges that are known for recognizing the importance of student mental health and have support services available for a variety of mental health needs.

Step 4.  Call the Colleges on Your Shortlist

After you narrow the list a bit.  I would call the schools and ask to speak to the “Office for Students with Disabilities”. Each college will have a different name for it, but every college will know what you are asking for.  That office will be able to talk through exactly what they offer and don’t offer.  Make sure you ask if there are additional costs for any of the services/programs they offer.

 

Step 5.  Educational Consultants

I don’t have one that I can specifically recommend, but again a Google search of “college educational consultants for students with disabilities” offers many options to consider.

Educational consultants visit and evaluate many schools, colleges, and programs annually. They have a deep understanding of each school’s strengths, including student-teacher ratio, staff credentials, availability of learning aids, etc.  This allows them to provide their firsthand knowledge about college options. Educational consultants also may suggest other appropriate academic and vocational alternatives, if your child is not college bound.

This is typically a service one pays for and again would depend on your child’s specific disability.  If your child had a very rare or complex disability, it may be helpful to search for a consultant that specializes in that disability as they would be more likely to deeply understand the options available.

 

Step 6. Know Your Child’s Rights

Your postsecondary school may require you to follow reasonable procedures to request an academic adjustment. You are responsible for knowing and following those procedures. I would make sure to ask about anything you need to do in advance to make sure that accommodations are in place (i.e. testing/retesting, evaluations, etc.). It is important to note that neither your high school or the college is financially responsible for the completion of required evaluations and testing.  This will likely be an out of pocket expense. Each state has a vocational rehabilitation agency which may be able to provide an evaluation at no cost to you if you are eligible for services through your state vocational rehabilitation agency.  Colleges are not allowed to ask as to whether an applicant for admission has a disability.  In college it is the student’s responsibility to make his or her emotional or learning disability known and to request academic adjustments. This should be done in a timely manner. A student may choose to make his or her needs known to key college personnel (dean, professor, service coordinator) on an individual basis.  For more information on the Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities, the US Department of Education is an excellent resource.  Unlike K-12, post-secondary schools are not required to provide a free and appropriate education.  They are however required to provide appropriate academic adjustments so as not to discriminate based on disability.  This is an important difference.  If your child was receiving services through their K-12 education at a public school, many of those services may not be offered (or offered for a fee) through the school.

 

Step 7. Review the Policies

If your child has a disruptive behavior disorder, it is important to note that many colleges and universities have disruptive behavior policies.  They often do not tolerate any student who clearly obstructs or disrupts the academic environment this can include examples like:

Violent Behavior including any assault, with or without weapons, behavior that is interpreted as being potentially violent (e.g., throwing chairs, pounding on things, or destroying property), or specific threats to inflict physical harm (e.g., a threat to shoot a named individual).

Disruptive Behavior including yelling, using profanity, waving arms or fists, verbally abusing others, and refusing reasonable requests.

Threatening Behavior includes physical movement short of actual contact/injury (e.g., moving closer aggressively), oral or written threats to persons or property (“You better watch yourself” or “I’m going to get you”) as well as implicit threats (“I’ll make you sorry” or “We are not through”).

If disruptive behaviors have occurred at high school, it is important to understand how a potential college or university would respond if your child displayed these same behaviors while attending.

Step 8. Vocational Rehabilitation Services

If academics beyond high school is not in your young adult’s future, your state’s vocational rehabilitation office helps people with disabilities prepare for, obtain, and maintain employment. These programs are designed for each individual’s needs. Typically, your child may be eligible for services if the VR agency determines that they meet the following criteria:

  • Your young adult has a physical or mental disability. The VR agency must verify the disability through reviewing assessments and evaluations.
  • Their disability prevents them from obtaining and maintaining a job.
  • They require vocational rehabilitation services to obtain or maintain a job that matches their strengths, abilities, capabilities, and interests.

The agency’s services may include assessment, guidance, training, rehabilitation technology, independent living, and other supportive services.

Step 9. Look for Scholarships

Grants and scholarships exist for students with disabilities.  These are often specific to they type of disability the young adult has.  Some must be obtained while the student is still in high school while others can be obtained during college.  A few examples of disability scholarships include:

  • Autism Scholarships
  • Scholarships for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired
  • General Scholarships for People with Disabilities
  • Blind, Low Vision, Visually Impaired Scholarships

The DoIt website through the University of Washington provides an excellent list of scholarships for students with a variety of disabilities and provides links to additional lists for even more options. It is important to note that scholarships are often based on merit.  The term “grants” might be more fruitful as you search for a student who has not excelled academically.

Start Figuring Out a Plan Early (if possible)

Alternative Teaching’s specific area of expertise is focused on supporting the parents of children with disruptive behavioral issues up to age 18 and the purpose of the webinar was to help parents start thinking about the options for the transition.  If your child is still has time before graduation, our in-home behavior management training program can be help address the behavioral concerns before they graduate.  Over the course of 6 months, a behavioral consultant will come to your home (in person or via internet) to teach you a modularized behavior management strategy that will help you address behavioral issues.

 

Whether your family has recently started experiencing disruptive behaviors or your family has been living with severe behaviors for years, we can help.

The benefits the family receives includes:

In home sessions

  • This means what it says, we come right to your home.
  • There is no need to fight to get your child to sessions.
  • There is no need to worry about child care for other children in the home.
  • Travel time to and from the home for each of the 10 sessions is included

10 sessions over a six-month period

  • Each session, parents learn a specific skill.
  • By the end of the program parents will have the tools and knowledge to address any behavioral issue ranging from defiance to violence. This is not never-ending therapy.
  • Behavioral improvements can be expected within the first two weeks after starting the program.

Unlimited phone support for the family for the full six months

  • Call any time your child is having behavioral issues and we will walk you through the program until the issue is resolved.
  • Our goal is to pick up the phone when you call.  If that is not possible, our policy is to return all calls and texts within 4 hours.
  • Unlimited phone support allows you to call anytime you have a question or concern. No need to wait until your next session to ask questions.  In fact, the more you call, the faster you will learn, the less you will need to call.

A customized treatment framework based on the needs of your family

  • Since our program provides skills to the parents, it can be used with all the children in the home.
  • Behavior problems affect all family members, even the ones that aren’t having problems.  We teach parents and caregivers how to get back in charge of the home and provide a safe environment for everyone.
  • Over time, you will be empowered to address your child’s behavioral issues without external assistance.
  • We can’t guarantee that our program will work for you, but we guarantee the program.  You will be able to try the program for up to 30 days to determine if it is effective for your family.  If you decide not to continue with the program, you will never receive an invoice.
  • What makes a situation scary is not when a child has behavioral problems, but when the adults don’t know what to do about it.  We will teach you how to address these behaviors effectively and with confidence.

One fixed price

  • All contact is included in the cost.
  • No charge for canceled appointments, after all, life happens.
  • We don’t have an hourly rate and you will never be rushed during your appointment.  We stay until all your questions are answered and all of your concerns are addressed.
  • No hidden fees.

The total fee for this six-month program is $3,900.

Read more about Our Promise.

Playdates for Special Needs: How to Host a Successful Playdate

Days off school are a great time for kids to get together with their friends. Playdates can help your child build and maintain friendships and be fun for everyone. Having a game plan ahead of time can help you and your child feel confident in social situations. We’ve come up with several ways to set your child up for success:

Have your child participate in the planning of activities. This allows them to pick something they will look forward to and they will be more vested in the playdate.

Have your child ask his or her friend 2 questions and report the answers back to you after the playdate. If your child is having difficulties coming up with questions you can help them along (example: “Why don’t you ask your friend if they like dogs or cats better? What is their favorite subject?”) This is a great way to encourage your child to have reciprocal interactions. We want them to learn to ask a question, listen to the answer and be able to remember the answer.

Playdates should last between 30 minutes and 2 hours. If it’s your child’s first playdate with a new friend, keep it short (i.e. 30 minutes – 1 hour). Kids have a limit for how long they’re able to manage themselves and going over that time can cause problems.

Start with a small group so your child can have 1 on 1 interaction. Once they have successful playdates with one friend you can add more children.

Always have a good exit strategy. If the playdate is going poorly, have an excuse to cut it short prepared ahead of time. Good exit strategies include having to leave to pick up a family member, dropping off a needed item at someone else’s home or running out to get an important item from the store.

And don’t forget that the Game Nights and Conversations are a great way to practice social skills at home!

IEP, BIP, and 504 Plans…What’s the Difference???

If your child is struggling in school, they may be eligible for additional supports at no cost to your family.  If you’re confused about your options and what all the acronyms mean, you’re not alone. Many parents have concerns, but they’re not sure what the best option for their child is. Whether your child is struggling with attendance, disruptive behaviors in the classroom, focusing, completing assignments, processing directions, or any other concerns that interferes with learning, your school may be able to offer a plan to help.  Read below to learn the basics about Individual Education Plans, Behavioral Intervention Plans and 504 Plans.

What is it?

Individual Education Plan (IEP) – An Individual Education Plan is a blueprint detailing the Special Education supports the school will provide when a student needs extra help. The IEP addresses a child’s specific learning issues and includes goals. The plan is developed by school staff, parents, the student and can include community providers and advocates.

Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) – If a student’s behaviors are interfering with his or her learning, the IEP team can include a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).  Behaviors that may interfere with learning can include, but are not limited to, oppositional behaviors (arguing with school staff, refusing to follow directions, and defiance), emotional difficulties (anxiety, depression, and fear), disruptive behaviors (yelling, swearing, destruction of property, and physical aggression), excessive tardiness and truancy.  The BIP outlines a plan for how to change the behaviors that interfere with learning.

504 Plan – A 504 plan offers supports, modifications and accommodations that are similar to those offered through an IEP. However, the eligibility requirements are different. If your child doesn’t qualify for an IEP, they may qualify for a 504 Plan.

Eligibility

Individual Education Plan (IEP) – In order to be eligible for an IEP, your child must be evaluated by his or her school. If you are having concerns about your child, you can request to have an evaluation completed. Your child’s school has 14 days to respond to your request and let you know if they will be completing the evaluation. The Evaluation may include documentation of your child’s disability (such as a doctor’s diagnosis), academic records, assessments completed by School Staff, classroom observations and interviews with parents or other adults who know the child well.

The IEP is guided by Federal Law under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In order to qualify for an IEP, your child’s evaluation must show that he or she has a disability that falls under 1 of the 13 categories identified by IDEA (Autism, Cognitive Disability, Deaf-Blindness, Deafness, Developmental Delay, Emotional Disability, Hearing Impairment, Multiple Disability, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, Speech or Language Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury and/or Visual Impairment). Additionally, his or her disability must affect their educational performance or ability to learn.

Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) – If your child is already on an IEP, and his or her behaviors are interfering with their educational performance or ability to learn, they may be eligible for a BIP. School Staff will complete a Functional Assessment to identify the problematic behaviors that interfere with learning.  The Functional Assessment is different for every child and can include assessment tools, interviews with parents and school staff and classroom observations.  Once completed, the Functional Assessment will clearly define the problem behaviors, identify triggers that cause the behavior to occur, identify anything that maintains the problematic behaviors and offer a hypothesis for why the child may be engaging in the behavior.  Once the problematic behaviors are well defined, the team will develop a plan to reduce negative behaviors and increase desired or replacement behaviors.

504 Plan – In order to be eligible for a 504 plan, your child must have a documented disability that interferes with his or her ability to learn in a general education classroom. One common disability that is covered under a 504 Plan, is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). If you are having concerns about your child, you can request that your Child’s school complete an evaluation. The Evaluation may include documentation of your child’s disability (such as a doctor’s diagnosis), academic records, assessments completed by School Staff, classroom observations and interviews with parents or other adults who know the child well.
The 504 Plan is guided by Federal Statue under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which states that a child with a disability has equal access to an education that is comparable to and education that is provided to those that do not have a disability. The eligibility requirements for a 504 allow for a broader definition of what is considered a disability. If your child does not meet the eligibility requirements for an IEP, they may qualify for a 504 Plan.

What Does the Plan Include?

Individual Education Plan (IEP) – An IEP is required by law to include annual goals that the student will be working towards. Additionally, the IEP must identify what specific special education and related services will be provided by the school (how often, for how long, location and who will be providing the service) to help the student achieve their annual goals. The IEP must also define how progress towards the goals will be determined.

Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) – A BIP will include a summary of the Functional Assessment. The BIP will clearly define what behaviors interfere with learning and a plan for how to address this. Typically, school staff will be teaching the student a new behavior to replace the problematic behavior. The BIP outlines how the replacement behavior will be taught, who is responsible, how long it will take and how school staff will reinforce appropriate behaviors.  Additionally, the BIP will include a way to measure progress.

504 Plan – There is no standard 504 Plan that is required by law. Every school district may handle 504 Plans differently. Typically, a 504 Plan is written for your child’s individual needs and includes any extra supports or accommodations offered by the school, who will be providing extra supports and the names of the school staff responsible for ensuring that the plan is implemented.

For more detailed information about IEPs, BIPs and 504 Plans, please visit the Illinois State Board of Education Links below:
IEP Information: https://www.isbe.net/documents/ch6-iep.pdf
BIP Information: https://www.isbe.net/Documents/ch9-bips.pdf
504 Plan Information: https://www.isbe.net/Documents/ch15-section_504.pdf

Picking IEP Goals

How to Get My Child Special Education Services That They Really Need

The most difficult goal during an IEP meeting is not getting the services you want; it’s knowing what services you need to ask for.  Most people that want every service possible often just want their child to be helped, without really knowing what they specifically need to accomplish that goal.  For instance, having a 1:1 aide can be extremely helpful in managing behaviors and improving academics.  The problem is that it creates dependency for the child, teacher and school.  The child becomes more distant from their peers, the teacher pushes all instruction onto the aide, it becomes difficult to remove the aide both emotionally and behaviorally, and you may not get the aide that you want.  You must look at what benefit you will get and for what cost.  Having lots of services can be great, but for each service offered, the child will be sacrificing services in another area i.e. pulling someone out for social work may require them to miss math, music, or recess.  That is not to say that services should not be completed.  Just understand what the real costs the child may pay for those services and what specific benefits will they be attaining.

Next, we have to look at the goals.  It is my experience that most IEP’s are written the exact same way…poorly.  Every school knows that each goal in an IEP must be written in a way that is measurable with progressing outcomes. Here are a few common mistakes to look out for:
·There are no details on how they plan on achieving the goal.  If I wrote a goal stating that you will increase your household income 25% you may think this is a great goal that is measurable.  However, if I don’t write specifics about how to achieve that goal, what good is writing this goal at all.  The big mistake is thinking that every goal needs to be achieved.  Knowing what works is as important as knowing what won’t work.  Typically, the most common excuse is that they don’t write specifics because that is not where that information belongs.  What they are really saying is that we don’t know the specifics so we can just talk about it later, but that conversation never happens. Even if it isn’t included in the IEP the parents should be provided information about the various techniques they are using so we can check off what works or not.  In addition, how can parents support the goal if they have no way of understanding what the school is doing to achieve it.
·The goal is too easy.  Often this is indicative of not understanding where the child really is at.  For instance, the child will correctly identify three triggers that cause them to have problems with peers.  If at the meeting you ask them to name 3 triggers and they can do it, then they have achieved their goal before you have even left the table.
·The goal is written in measurable terms but can’t truly be measured.  For instance, you can track a child’s attendance because you can look at the total number of events (days of school) and their success (days attended).  However, if you are tracking the number of times the child controlled their impulses, how will you know the base number of events.  The child may have controlled their impulses a thousand times that day but you never saw it because they were successful.  However, you did observe that they blew up 3 times that day.  Did they achieve their goal?
·The progression is not statistically significant.  Increasing homework completion, test scores, attendance, or behavioral goals, etc. that are too small to measure.  For instance, increasing scores in math from 85% in the first quarter to 90% in the 2nd quarter might not be measurable because the percentages aren’t far enough apart to tell if it was happenstance or a legitimate increase in skills.
·Percentages and number of trials that are touted as measurable performances can be meaningless.  The trick here is to know exactly how they plan on measuring the goal.  For instance, using observations to measure percentages usually means the professionals are just guessing i.e. I think they did this about 75% of the time.  People remember the last or most prominent event which can skew exactly how accurate that percentage really is. Additionally, number of trials is just a modern version of the percentage fallacy.  Unless they are literally tracking each event, you can’t say how successful the child was in achieving their goal.  However, even if they do track it successfully…once they achieved their numbers then is the skill considered mastered at that level?  If the IEP says that the child will correctly identify ways in which their behavior effects other kids in 3 out of 4 attempts does that mean if they do 3 in a row they have mastered the skill at that point.  Even if they failed the 14 times before then.  Unfortunately, schools often write a goal like this and wait the entire quarter and then determine whether they have achieved it, even though it is written that the moment they have hit their numbers it is mastered at this level.
The important thing to remember is that the IEP goals are not written poorly because the school doesn’t care.  They just don’t know any other way.  Everyone writes them poorly so they have convinced themselves that it must be correct.  Remember, teachers are educators and not clinicians.  They are not trying to short change your child.  They just don’t know how to attain a well written IEP that has realistic goals, can be realistically measured, provides clear progress, and will identify techniques that work best with your child.  Lawyers will help you get the services you want, but we can help you determine what you should be asking for.  Once you know what you want then the schools will most likely agree.

Less Stressful Mornings

“Let’s go! Let’s go! We are running late!  I don’t know where your shoes are… probably where ever you left them. You can’t leave the house with your hair looking like that.  Let’s go! I’m walking out the door…. Let’s Go!”

If your mornings sound something like this, you are not alone. Difficult mornings can make parents short tempered, frustrated, and resentful. Every other article is going to tell you to get your kids to bed early, which is obvious, and if we stopped there we wouldn’t be doing you any favors. The following tips will help you figure out what to do (and not to do) to make your mornings less stressful.

If you are an Alternative Teaching client, remember what you have learned and that your behaviorist is able to help before, during, and after these moments. Stay rational; it is contagious. If you catch yourself raising your voice, it is very possible that you will unintentionally escalate an already anxiety producing event for your child. If you find yourself starting to yell, take a few minutes to give yourself a break and stay rational.

If you can manage it, showers and baths should be taken at night along with anything else that can reasonably be done ahead of time like picking out clothes, packing the backpack, and packing lunches.

Depending on age and situation, look over all homework for completeness before bed.

Remind yourself that while you don’t get to control their behavior, thanks to Alternative Teaching, you now have the tools to give effective consequences if their behavior bothers you. Make sure you issue those consequences when they are calm.

Those are the things you should do…now we are going to give you permission to not do things:

Don’t worry if they showered (unless you are dealing with bed-wetting). We shower for social reasons and not hygiene reasons. They are not less hygienic if they don’t shower…they will just stink. Remember: kids don’t typically develop an odor until they are older but each child is different. Some kids never stink and some you can’t scrape the stink off of them.

Don’t sweat over homework. Nobody gets rejected from Harvard because they missed one day of homework. Issue consequences later or let the school handle it. Remember…you already finished school so don’t take it so personally.

Stay focused on getting the kids to school. Wrinkled clothes, messy hair, mix matched socks or handing them breakfast bars on the way out the door are all fine. Just get them into school for your sake and theirs.

Don’t have their room clean or chore done in the morning? They didn’t put away their breakfast dishes? Who cares? Unless you are selling your house and having buyers come that morning…it really isn’t that important.

Now here’s the catch. If you find that their hair’s messy, they stink, haven’t completed their homework, left a mess in the kitchen and they are dressed like they are going to school on “opposite day” everyday…then you may have a problem. If we are working with you…I promise we will get to these issues sooner than you think. If you are not a client, give us a call. We can help you resolve these types of problems quickly. School should be a happy place, but for some students it is an institution of anxiety, stress, and panic. If you are having morning problems everyday then this is more than someone that is just disorganized and not a “morning person”. We can teach you how to resolve these issues and a whole lot more.

Should I Force My Child to Apologize?

In our program, apologies are actions, and not words.  We do not recommend demanding or even asking for an apology.  To require someone to apologize, loses the whole point of the apology. A true apology is about feeling badly about what one had done and expressing that remorse.  As parents, when a child’s apology doesn’t come out the way we like, we often start insisting that it sounds sincere.  When one starts trying to demand sincerity, they have really gotten away from the point of the apology.

Verbal apologies only bring up bad feelings.  When you go to someone to ask for forgiveness, you are really subjecting yourself to the other person and hoping that they: A. accept your apology and B. can move on from this experience.  But first, we must rehash our mistake or misbehavior by talking about it and by saying that we are sorry for what we have done. This can be very difficult for adults let alone children with mental health symptoms.  If the other person does not accept the child’s apology it really leaves the child in a vulnerable and uncomfortable position, as they face that they cannot move on from this difficult experience.

Let’s look at how we as adults apologize.  As adults, when we make a mistake, we may bring something as an offering: a gift basket, a card, a letter.  We may try to go above and beyond in some way in an attempt to make up for our mistake or misbehavior.  When we do something to offer our apology and we atone for our mistakes, the apology is much easier.

If verbal apologies are difficult for us as adults without that atonement, why would we ask a child do something that we wouldn’t do ourselves? Instead our program teaches children how to atone for their behaviors and allow their actions to speak for themselves instead of offering up empty words.  The child has a sense that their actions have allowed them to move on.  Meanwhile, the person receiving the apology has the positive experience of receiving from the person who they felt wronged by.  This allows both to feel better about the resolution to the experience. Let their actions speak for themselves and when they are ready, perhaps we might get a sincere, “I’m sorry”.

 

10 Signs Your Child’s Therapist Isn’t Working Out

  1. The only thing you get out of therapy is the fight to get your child there.
  2. The therapist can’t verbalize what he/she is working on and the skills your child is developing.
  3. Your child is past session 3 and the only thing they are working on is “building rapport” or playing games.
  4. The therapist takes the child’s side over the parents (i.e. never focusing on the child’s misbehavior).
  5. You’ve never gotten an update from the therapist about your child’s progress.
  6. Neither you nor your child can verbalize your child’s treatment goals.
  7. The therapist’s only response to behavioral issues is to suggest having more frequent sessions with your child.
  8. The therapist provides no after hours support.
  9. You start to fault therapy (and not the therapist) for achieving no results.
  10. The therapist can’t/won’t answer these 3 questions (see link).

How to Find a Therapist for My Child

Not all therapists are created equal. Sadly, there are a lot of unqualified therapists when it comes to disorders with disruptive behaviors. Here are three questions your child’s therapist should be able to answer.

What specifically will you be working on with my child? What type of therapy is the therapist going to do?  Is it cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)?  Is it psychoanalytic therapy?  Is it “tell-me-how-your-day-was therapy” (which is certainly not therapy)? What is the therapist going to do and what is he/she going to talk about with your child? The answer to this question should be direct.  If the therapist responds with a lot of jargon (psychobabble) that isn’t clear, this might be a red flag. Like any other professional, a strong therapist will not shy away from this question.

How long will it take? The answer to this question doesn’t have to be an exact date, but the therapist should be able to tell you, based on their work with previous clients, how long it will take to meet treatment expectations. For example, a CBT therapist might say something like 12-20 sessions and a child attachment therapist might say 18-24 months.  For this question, it isn’t about the actual length, but does the therapist have a range and an idea of what this process is going to look like.  So here is how this conversation might go:

Parent: “Have you ever worked with kids like this?”

Therapist: “Yes, all the time.”

Parent: “Have you ever been successful with them?”

Therapist: “Yes, of course.”

Parent: “Well, how long did that take?”

Based on their experience with previous clients, they should be able to give you a range.  If they say it’s going to take six months and it actually takes eight months, they are doing well. If they say it will take six months and eighteen months from now you are still working on the same issues… well, that is a problem. Never, ever sign up for open ended therapy (We will talk more about this in a future blog post.).

How will we know it is working? Do we really have to go through the entire six months before we know that it is working? What signs and symptoms can we expect to see when things are getting better?  For example, if the child has anxiety about social situations is he/she going to be able to ask for his/her own play dates? Is he/she going to be able to sign up for group or club? Will he/she be able to attend social activities independently?  As your child moves through therapy ask yourself, “Are we actually seeing signs that thing are getting better?” Don’t wait until the end of the time frame to realize that things aren’t improving.

BONUS TIPS:

  • The therapist being “nice” or your child “liking” the therapist is not a good enough reason to stay with a therapist if he/she isn’t providing results.
  • Your child is not going to know if therapy is working or not.  Your assessment of the therapy should be based on a reduction of problematic symptoms, an improvement in behavior, a reduction in thinking errors, or an increase in skill mastery (all of which you, as the parent, can assess).
  • Your child does not just need someone to talk to. Hopefully, that is what they have friends for, but if not, then that would make for a great therapy goal.   Therapy is more than just talking with your child.
  • You are paying for a specific service and should expect to receive results. Would you stay with your mechanic if he/she kept telling you what was wrong with your car, but he/she was never able to fix it?  Of course not.  You would expect results and you can and should expect the same from your child’s therapist.  Like a mechanic, at some point you should expect that your child will be “back up and running” on their own.

There is an old proverb: “No matter how far you’ve traveled down the wrong road, turn back.” If this therapist isn’t helping you, he/she isn’t going to help you a year from now or ten years from now.  Don’t waste your most valuable resource… time.  These problems typically get bigger as your child grows.  Get a new therapist.