Supporting Parents. Fostering Change.

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Summer is coming to a close quickly and it’s back to school time again. In all the stores and in many of the commercials, you can’t avoid it, the sense of a summer’s “end” is near. As the start of the school year approaches, perhaps you have seen your first grader go into meltdown mode at the mention of school, or watched your soon-to-be kindergartner regress back to baby talking and thumb sucking? Rest assured that you’re not alone.

Each fall, millions of parents deal with beginning of the school year anxiety. The fears children have about school can be very real: they may be apprehensive about separating from their parents, riding the school bus, meeting a new teacher or making friends. The emotions your child experiences before the start of school can lead to a general sense of anxiety—a feeling your child may not be able to express.

Here at In Step we have been conducting groups to help some of these children. Whether in our school starter group, the kindergarten readiness group, or one of our many other groups these children meet for six weeks over the summer. They prepare for the transition to school and some of the events that may cause them anxiety. If your child is starting to experience anxiety at the thought of school beginning call us, one of our groups may be right for you. If group therapy not right for you, we have individual therapy, testing, and educational support in addition to our extensive group options.

Here are some tips to manage back to school anxiety.

  1. Keep your own anxiety in check: Even if you don’t say a word, they can feel your anxiety. If you are stressed, it’s likely to rub off on your child. It can reinforce their fears. Let them know that you trust them and that you will get through it together.
  2. Get Familiar: One of the best ways to address fear of the unknown is to become more familiar with it. Go to the Open House or take your child with you to registration. Another possibility is to call ahead on a teacher workday, explain that your child is feeling nervous, and ask if you can bring her in to meet her teacher and see her room.
  3. Have a trial run: The day before the first day of school, set the alarm. Get up and get ready, establishing the morning routine. Get everyone out the door on time (with the backpack) and walk to the bus stop or drive to school.

Continue reading “Back to School, Routines, Sports and Anxiety”

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Group psychotherapy is a special form of therapy in which a small number of people meet together under the guidance of a professionally trained therapist to help themselves and one another. The therapy has been widely used and has been a standard treatment
option for over 50 years.

Reasons Why Group Therapy Works

  • Group therapy helps children gain a feeling of acceptance with their peers that may not otherwise be present.
  • Group therapy improves a child’s self-esteem
  • Children get to “role play” the lessons they learn in group with their peers.
  • Children learn techniques to help them self-regulate their emotions.
  • Children realize they are not alone. There are other kids working through emotional challenges just like them.

However, in order for group therapy to work, you have to find the right group for your child. Below I have outlined the features that you should look for when selecting a therapy group for your child.

  • Groups should comprise of approximately 4-8 children, with similar emotional behavioral goals. And should be close in age. Depending on how old your child is, gender may be a consideration as well.
  • It takes time to enact long term, systemic change. Watch out for groups that advertise quick fixes. Short term groups are merely “appetizers”, prepping your child for the “main course” which offers long term benefits.
  • Be aware of agencies or practices with inexperienced therapists or with high turn-over rates. They tend to offer inconsistence and incongruent training for their staff.
  • Look for a group where concrete goals can be achieved. A qualified professional will insure realistic treatment goals are set for you and your child.
  • A group program with a simultaneous parents’ group is a huge plus! This group will teach you the same behavioral tools and lexicon your child is learning. That way, you’re offering a continuum of care which only benefits and accelerates your child’s progress.

Group therapy is a safe place to experiment with new social behaviors. The children learn to reinforce progress in each other. In this way, kids are ultimately buoyed by their peers and hopeful about future social and emotional success.

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