Now providing services in our offices located in Bonita Springs and Fort Myers

3575 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs, Florida, 34134 • 13130 Westlinks Terrace Unit 8, Fort Myers, Florida, 33913 • (239) 495-7722 • (239) 443-4577 Fax

Happy Mother’s Day

Courtesy of LittleWhale/Shutterstock

Here at SSCC we would like to wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day and thank our mothers and grandmothers for all they do for us! Mother’s Day is about honoring and celebrating all mothers. Classic Mother’s Day gifts include flowers, chocolates, jewelry, and more, but if you ask a mother what she wants for Mother’s Day, more than likely, she will just want to spend quality time with the family. There are so many at home, fun activities for families to do on Mother’s Day. Here are some ideas:

  • Kids, with help from an adult, make breakfast in bed for mom or female maternal figure at home.
  • Family bakes a cake for mom and/ or grandma
  • Family movie night
  • Kids make personalized Mother’s Day cards for mom and grandma
  • Buying mom and/or grandma flowers or gifts
  • Any family activity that includes each member of the family
  • family picnics
  • Kids offer to do things for mom

For Mother’s Day, most mothers agree that nothing is better than spending time with the family. Be sure to give your mothers, grandmothers, any mother you know, lots of appreciation and love! If you no longer live with your parents, you can send a card in the mail to the mothers in your life or just give them a call. They will appreciate that you are thinking of them. Here at SSCC, we want to wish everyone a happy safe Mother’s Day! Thank you to all our female maternal figures!

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Courtesy of BBC Newsround

Earth_day

Courtesy of BBC Newsround

In a world of booming technologies and busy lifestyles, it’s easy to forget about the natural beauty in life, that is, the life around us that makes up our beautiful planet, Earth. Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd every year. Here at SSCC, we want to show some appreciation for our planet and encourage some at home activities to celebrate Earth Day.

The first Earth day was in 1970. This year marks the 51st anniversary of Earth Day. For years, people from all different communities have gotten together on this day to help take care of the Earth. These activities included picking up litter, planting trees, and learning about the nature around them. (The Old Farmer’s Almanac). These are things we can do in our own neighborhoods or local parks. You could even take a walk outside just to observe and really enjoy nature. It’s important for children to also take part in this. Being outside surrounded by plants, animals, sunlight, and fresh air is good for everyone and it can help us feel connected with the world around us. In fact, it’s proven to be so beneficial that there is even a new kind of therapy called ecotherapy, revolving around mental health and nature. According to Healthline, in an article titled, Ecotherapy and the Healing Power of Nature, ecotherapy can help improve mental health. Research states that ecotherapy can help with creating a higher resilience to stress, help with nervous system recovery, benefit those living with PTSD, and benefit one’s overall mental well-being. (Healthline).

If you can’t plant a tree or go out into your community, you can do some little things at home that can make a difference. Be sure to share these moments with your children. A few activities include:

  1. Watching a nature documentary
  2. Planting flowers, vegetables, herbs, etc. in your yard
  3. Watering the plants in your garden
  4. Teaching your children about the importance of recycling
  5. Teach children the importance of not wasting water or food
  6. Taking a walk outside and being observant of what is around you

We want to wish you a Happy Earth Day at SSCC! Please take some time to stop and smell the roses.

References

“Earth Day 2020: What’s It All about? – CBBC Newsround.” BBC News, BBC, 22 Apr. 2020, www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/52357230.

Editors, The. “10 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day at Home.” Old Farmer’s Almanac, Earth Day 2021, 24 Mar. 2021, www.almanac.com/content/earth-day-date-activities-history.

Raypole, Crystal. “Ecotherapy and the Healing Power of Nature.” Ecotherapy: Types, Benefits, and DIY Tips, Healthline, 31 Aug. 2020, www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/ecotherapy.

pastedgraphic

 

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National Siblings Day

sscc_p1

Courtesy of I Love Newton

You may have fought with them when you were younger, but as you got older, you started to realize what excellent friends they can make. Our siblings are some of the first people that we interact with in our lives and the relationships that we make with them are extremely important throughout our lives. This Saturday, April 10, is Siblings Day. Here at SSCC, we want to acknowledge the importance of healthy and happy relationships among siblings and celebrate the blessings of having a sibling.

According to The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Newsroom, in an article titled, The Importance of Siblings, by Dr. Shawn Sidhu, children often discuss life topics with their siblings rather than their parents because of their closeness in age. They are also more likely to confide in their siblings and see them as a source of support. Having healthy relationships with one’s siblings may also promote empathy, prosocial behavior, and academic achievement, according to the article. (HSC Newsroom). Our siblings can help us in many ways, but they can also bring us down. It is crucial for a parent to correct this kind of behavior and not encourage unhealthy habits. In this same article, Dr. Sidhu, goes on to explain what parents can do to encourage healthy relationships between their children.

  1. Parents should talk with their children and ask them how their relationships are with their siblings, and talk with them on things that are good in the relationship, as well as things that they can work on.
  2. Parents should celebrate differences among their children and never compare their children to their siblings.
  3. Parents should encourage siblings to work together and support each other.
  4. Parents should give each of their children rewards for working together, but not give a reward to either child, if the children are not cooperating together.
  5. If one child is suffering from a medical, developmental, or emotional problem, parents should try to make sure that the rest of their children also receive attention.
  6. If a sibling conflict is serious and parents don’t know what to do, they should seek family counseling or family therapy to receive professional help. (HSC Newsroom).

 

 

 

 

 

References

“Happy National Siblings Day Today!: Newton News,Reviews, Upcoming Events And Special Offers.” I Love Newton | Sharing the Great Things About Living in Newton, MA., 5 Apr. 2015, ilovenewton.com/happy-national-siblings-day-today/.

Sidhu, Dr. Shawn. “The Importance of Siblings.” UNM Health Sciences Center, 7 Jan. 2019, hsc.unm.edu/news/news/the-importance-of-siblings.html.

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What’s What Wednesday Storytelling

What’s What Wednesday Storytelling

There is something very powerful in the art of telling stories. Throughout our history and our existence, we humans, have always been storytellers. At the very core of our existence, lies the incredible gift of sharing stories and passing them down through generations. We share stories with our loved ones, with those in need, and just about anyone who wants to listen. Stories are not just used for entertainment, but they are used for learning, for guiding, and for helping each other go through life. March 20-26 this year is World Folklore Tales and Fables Week. Here at SSCC, we would like to talk about the importance of stories and storytelling and how powerful stories can be to help us heal from many hard experiences.

As children, we grow up with folktales and fairytales. When children picture what it’s like to be a character in a fairytale or folktale, they are not only entertained and engaged, but they are learning too. According to Parent Child Plus, in an article discussing folktales from around the world, reading folktales to your children is an excellent way to share valuable lessons with them. (Parent Child Plus). Children’s creativity is also engaged when you tell stories. As we age, we may grow out of our desire to hear fairytales, but our desires to hear and tell stories never goes away! And telling stories, as well as listening to them, is something that we should never avoid, because it’s a major part of how we learn from our mistakes and experiences, and how we communicate with others and grow. Stories are even capable of having healing powers. Sharing your experiences with others through telling a story, helps you envision your experience in a different light. According to Donald Davis, a professional storyteller, who tours the country telling his stories, says, “You’re not telling the story to change what happened, you’re telling the story to change you.” In other words, what happened has already happened and that won’t change, but how you view this experience can change for the better. He goes on to say, “When something happens to you, it sits on top of you like a rock. And if you never tell the story, it sits on you forever. But as you begin to tell the story, you climb out from under that rock, and eventually, you sit up on top of it.” (Donald Davis, How the Story Transforms the Teller). For this particular storytelling event, Davis was telling his father’s story of how he seriously injured his leg and how it had made him disabled for the rest of his life. However, in doing so, he was able to have so many wonderful opportunities because of this one bad experience, and because he continuously shared his story, he was able to overcome this bad experience. Many of us have bad experiences, but when we share our story with others, we are able to overcome these events too. Storytelling brings people together, and through our shared experiences, we can learn from each other and help each other.

References

“Folktales and Fables to Read Together with Your Child.” ParentChild+, 19 Mar. 2018, www.parentchildplus.org/childrens-folktakes-fables/.

TEDxTalks. “How the Story Transforms the Teller | Donald Davis | TEDxCharlottesville.” YouTube, YouTube, 23 Dec. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgeh4xhSA2Q.

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What’s What Wednesday

What’s What Wednesday

03-17-21

Sunshine State Counseling Center

 

WWW-SSCC

March 20th is International Day of Happiness. Here at SSCC, we encourage parents to help their children make healthy habits that will help them to lead a happier and more successful life. International Day of Happiness is a campaign coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit organization.

 

What You Can Do To Encourage Your Child’s Happiness

According to Action for Happiness’ website, there are “Ten Keys to Happier Living” and they give descriptions on how you can put these techniques into practice. (Action for Happiness). The ten keys are the following:

Giving: Do Things for Others

(Caring about others and giving are very important for our own happiness. It helps us create stronger connections with others and build a happier world of caring around us. There are many ways to care and give to others. This includes our time, ideas, conversations, a listening ear, and more).

Relating: Connect with People

(One major key to happiness is having good relationships with others in our lives. Our closest relationships can give us feelings of self-worth, love, and happiness. These meaningful relationships help us to live happy and healthy lives. It’s important that we continue to strengthen our relationships because it will help us and others).

Exercising: Take Care of Your Body

(Mind and body are both important factors to consider for one’s happiness and healthy lifestyle. Just like you should exercise your brain, you should exercise your body. You can do physical exercise to bring more happiness into your life, or you can even do simple things like going outside and enjoying nature, taking a break from social media and technology. Give yourself that play time that you need).

Awareness: Live Life Mindfully

(Take a moment to stop, look around, take in everything that is around you. We are often so busy in our lives. We even keep our children busy by keeping them constantly engaged with activities or screen time. This is the kind of world we live in, and each day is passing by quickly. This fast-paced busy lifestyle may lead to stress. When we slow down to take in our surroundings and be fully present in the moment, it can help us feel more fulfilled in how we manage our time, helping us to feel happy and balanced).

Trying Out: Keep Learning New Things

(Learning new things can be very good for us by keeping us engaged and giving us a sense of accomplishment. It also can help boost self-confidence. Learning new things doesn’t only take place in the classroom. You can learn new things by joining a club or finding a new hobby).

Direction: Have Goals to Look Forward To

(Goals are important for us to have because they keep us motivated. Having said that, it is also important to make sure that your goals are a bit challenging but achievable. When we have goals in our life that we are able to reach, it brings us satisfaction and makes us feel good about ourselves. We feel accomplished when we reach our goals that we have been working towards).

Resilience: Find Ways to Bounce Back

(We all go through hard times, but overcoming these hard times makes us stronger. Having a positive attitude even in times of stress can help us through our struggles and having a lasting good impact on our overall well-being. If we learn how to jump back and face hard times with optimism, we help ourselves greatly. Having this kind of resilience is hard, but through dedication we can make it happen).

Emotions: Look for What’s Good

(In life, good and bad things happen to all of us. Facing everyday life with an optimistic mindset and positive emotions, like joy, contentment, and gratitude, can help us as we go through our
daily experiences. There will always be bad days and good days but when you have positive emotions, it helps us to see the world in a better light).

Acceptance: Be Comfortable with Who You Are

It’s important for us to understand that no one is perfect, and accepting ourselves is so important for our well-being. We often compare ourselves to others or perfect standards, focusing on our flaws and everything that we think is wrong with us. It’s hard to be happy when we constantly tear ourselves down. When we accept ourselves for who we are, love ourselves, be kind to ourselves, and accept others for who they are we will learn to be happy and feel good about ourselves).

Meaning: Be Part of Something Bigger

(Meaning and purpose are valuable parts of everyone’s life. Many people find meaning and purpose through their religion, lifestyle practices, and personal identities like being a parent. Those who are a part of something bigger in life, can experience less stress, anxiety, and depression. Being connected with something meaningful can help us to lead a happier life).

 

Resources

International Day of Happiness – 20 March, www.dayofhappiness.net/#new.

 

“10 Keys to Happier Living.” Action for Happiness, www.actionforhappiness.org/10-keys.

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What’s What Wednesday: What You Can Do to Encourage Your Child’s Happiness

WhatYouCanDo
Courtesy of Georgia Department of Public Health

 

What’s What Wednesday: What You Can Do to Encourage Your Child’s Happiness

 

March 20th is International Day of Happiness. Here at SSCC, we encourage parents to help their children make healthy habits that will help them to lead a happier and more successful life. International Day of Happiness is a campaign coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit organization. According to Action for Happiness’ website, there are “Ten Keys to Happier Living” and they give descriptions on how you can put these techniques into practice. (Action for Happiness). The ten keys are the following:

Giving: Do Things for Others

(Caring about others and giving are very important for our own happiness. It helps us create stronger connections with others and build a happier world of caring around us. There are many ways to care and give to others. This includes our time, ideas, conversations, a listening ear, and more).

Relating: Connect with People

(One major key to happiness is having good relationships with others in our lives. Our closest relationships can give us feelings of self-worth, love, and happiness. These meaningful relationships help us to live happy and healthy lives. It’s important that we continue to strengthen our relationships because it will help us and others).

Exercising: Take Care of Your Body

(Mind and body are both important factors to consider for one’s happiness and healthy lifestyle. Just like you should exercise your brain, you should exercise your body. You can do physical exercise to bring more happiness into your life, or you can even do simple things like going outside and enjoying nature, taking a break from social media and technology. Give yourself that play time that you need).

Awareness: Live Life Mindfully

(Take a moment to stop, look around, take in everything that is around you. We are often so busy in our lives. We even keep our children busy by keeping them constantly engaged with activities or screen time. This is the kind of world we live in, and each day is passing by quickly. This fast-paced busy lifestyle may lead to stress. When we slow down to take in our surroundings and be fully present in the moment, it can help us feel more fulfilled in how we manage our time, helping us to feel happy and balanced).

Trying Out: Keep Learning New Things

(Learning new things can be very good for us by keeping us engaged and giving us a sense of accomplishment. It also can help boost self-confidence. Learning new things doesn’t only take place in the classroom. You can learn new things by joining a club or finding a new hobby).

Direction: Have Goals to Look Forward To

(Goals are important for us to have because they keep us motivated. Having said that, it is also important to make sure that your goals are a bit challenging but achievable. When we have goals in our life that we are able to reach, it brings us satisfaction and makes us feel good about ourselves. We feel accomplished when we reach our goals that we have been working towards).

Resilience: Find Ways to Bounce Back

(We all go through hard times, but overcoming these hard times makes us stronger. Having a positive attitude even in times of stress can help us through our struggles and having a lasting good impact on our overall well-being. If we learn how to jump back and face hard times with optimism, we help ourselves greatly. Having this kind of resilience is hard, but through dedication we can make it happen).

Emotions: Look for What’s Good

(In life, good and bad things happen to all of us. Facing everyday life with an optimistic mindset and positive emotions, like joy, contentment, and gratitude, can help us as we go through our daily experiences. There will always be bad days and good days but when you have positive emotions, it helps us to see the world in a better light).

Acceptance: Be Comfortable with Who You Are

It’s important for us to understand that no one is perfect, and accepting ourselves is so important for our well-being. We often compare ourselves to others or perfect standards, focusing on our flaws and everything that we think is wrong with us. It’s hard to be happy when we constantly tear ourselves down. When we accept ourselves for who we are, love ourselves, be kind to ourselves, and accept others for who they are we will learn to be happy and feel good about ourselves).

Meaning: Be Part of Something Bigger

(Meaning and purpose are valuable parts of everyone’s life. Many people find meaning and purpose through their religion, lifestyle practices, and personal identities like being a parent. Those who are a part of something bigger in life, can experience less stress, anxiety, and depression. Being connected with something meaningful can help us to lead a happier life).
If you are experiencing depression or lack of happiness or you think that your child may be suffering from depression, please contact Sunshine State Counseling Center.

 

Works Cited

International Day of Happiness – 20 March, www.dayofhappiness.net/#new.

“10 Keys to Happier Living.” Action for Happiness, www.actionforhappiness.org/10-keys.

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What’s What Wednesday

What’s What Wednesday

02-24-21

Sunshine State Counseling Center

IMG-1146

Black History Month has become a time-honored tradition since it was first conceptualized as “Negro History Week” in 1925 by Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), and first celebrated in 1926. In 1976, honoring the heritage of Black Americans became a month-long celebration, officially recognized in the United States by President Gerald R. Ford.

 

 

Now more than ever, February is a time to remember the people who have enriched the community with knowledge, pride and respect. We recognize the contributions, struggles and history of African Americans, and reflect on the idea that Black History is at the heart of American history. In honor of Black History Month, we would like to highlight the achievement of those making lasting changes in their local communities, nationally, and across the globe through philanthropy, sports and entertainment.

Black American Influencers In Today’s Society

 

NBA legend and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan has donated $10 million to open two new medical clinics in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Simone Biles is an 18 times gold medalist and is looking forward to making more history in the 2021 Olympics, which will take place in Tokyo.

Shonda Rhymes is rewriting history through her newest show Brigerton. Many do not realize that blacks existed during those times. However, sources say that in the 1750’s, London became home for many blacks. They lived in major poor cities such as Liverpool and Bristol. Brigerton is bringing blacks to the forefront by making some of the main characters, a wealthy black family.

 Charlamagne Tha God is now using his platform to amplify awareness around mental health in the Black community by launching “Mental Wealth Alliance”.

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What’s What Wednesday: What Depression Looks like in Children

Nino_triste

What’s What Wednesday: What Depression Looks like in Children

When people think of depression, common themes that come to mind are sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, insomnia, and stormy clouds. While those symptoms may present in children, your child may also experience anger or increased irritability. Your child may have outbursts of anger and/or aggression, talk back to you or other adults, have meltdowns or throw tantrums. They may become angry or irritated more frequently and quickly at situations they normally wouldn’t be irritated by or that may seem small to you.

Depression may also affect your child in school. They may be aggressive to other students, not listen to teachers, have poor grades, not pay attention, and not complete all their assignments like homework. Generally, what seems like simple behavioral issues may be a little more!

What to do:

Talk with your child:

Get on their level and have a conversation with them. Ask them what’s going on and how they’re feeling. Ask them if there’s anything or anyone bothering them. It’s helpful if you talk with them at eye level so they feel talked to and not talked at. This will help facilitate a healthier, productive conversation and may help them feel more important!

Normalize emotions:

Educate them about emotions. Do they know what sadness feels like? Frustration? Anger? Loneliness? Let them know that it’s okay to feel these emotions and everyone feels them, even adults like you! Encourage them to talk about these emotions and express how they feel to you. When they feel something they can’t name, help them learn what emotion they’re feeling and then normalize it. We’re all emotional beings! It may be helpful to give them an example on situations that made you sad or angry. Even better, you can recall a situation that your child went through.

Tackle the behaviors:

This is your opportunity to teach them what’s okay and not okay. Teach them that it’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to be aggressive towards others or talk back to adults. Replace your child’s negative behaviors with a positive coping skill. You can suggest to them that they can hug a pillow tightly or run in place really fast instead to get through the anger. You can even suggest that they can talk through their anger with you! Also, try asking them how you can help them. This lets your child know that you care and you’re interested in finding a solution to help them feel better.

Emotions are difficult. Even for adults! Some emotions are harder to process and handle than others. It takes time and a lot of trial and error to figure out how to properly process our emotions and sometimes we still don’t know the right way to handle them! So guide your child in learning how to process their emotions healthily. And always, always, always love your child through them.

If your child or a child you know are presenting with any of these challenges, please call us or share our number. We may be able to help!

Community Events:

The second phase of the Teen Empowerment group is starting Feb. 26th! Reserve your spot today! More information is listed on our website under the Event tab.

On Feb. 18th from 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM, Avow Kids and David Lawrence Center is hosting a Mindful Families group at 1301 Whippoorwill Lane, Naples. Teen participants ages 13-17 and parents are invited to attend. Teens will engage in art therapy projects to express emotions and strengthen coping skills. Parents will receive a presentation on identifying signs and symptoms of common behavioral issues in youth while also learning positive prevention tips. This is a FREE service and spots are limited due to social distancing precautions, so RSVP today! Call (239) 261-4404 or email [email protected] to reserve your spot.

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It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month!

In honor of this month, we at Sunshine State Counseling Center want to remember some of the
people that made a great positive impact towards the betterment of the Hispanic community and
the world.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.guideposts.org/inspiration/inspiring-stories/hispanic-heritage-month-14-inspiring-figures

Julia Alvarez, author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the
Butterflies. Her writing was inspired by the struggles of being an immigrant to this country. She
is known as the best prolific writer of her generation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.guideposts.org/inspiration/inspiring-stories/hispanic-heritage-month-14-inspiring-figures

Dr. Ellen Ochoa, became the first Hispanic woman to travel to outerspace when she served a 9
day mission aboud the shuttle Discovery in 1993. She went on to complete a total of four
missions in outer space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.google.com/doodles/celebrating-felicitas-mendez

Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendes, a regular hard working couple who were both children of
immigrants were discriminated against when they tried to enroll their children into a local school
and were denied. They decided to fight against this injustice by suing the school district with the
lawsuit Mendez v. Westminster, and won.

Parents of Hispanic heritage, this is a great opportunity to connect with your children as you
learn about the history of your place of origin together. In the midst of the chaos, this is a great
way to get away from all of the noise and share a moment of learning together. It is important to
remind your children, and yourselves, your strengths and how resilient you are historically at
times of adversity to get through tough times like these. The historical figures mentioned above
are great examples of people who overcame obstacles and went on to become beacons of
hope in the Hispanic community.

Very Well Mind lays out some coping strategies you can use at home to increase your
resilience.

  1.  Find a Sense of Purpose – In times of adversity, it can help your mental health stamina
    by getting involved with a cause that holds a special meaning. For others, this may mean
    discovering your spirituality, or engaging in other activities that are meaningful to you.
    Julia Alvarez found meaning in her writing and has shared that gift with the world.
  2.  Nurture Yourself – Schedule a Nap! Getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep at night
    is not a reality for most adults and sometimes children alike these days. Despite the
    cultural norm of working like lab rats all day, it is proven to be healthier for you to take
    time to rest, both physically and mentally. If a little sleep during the day is still not an
    option take some time for meditation or prayer to re energize from within.
    As Dr. Ellen Ochoa traveled to the stars, learn to imagine them for a few moments each
    day.
  3.  Take Action – Look at the glass half full. Take small steps every day towards a solution
    to the current issues you may be facing brings you closer to finding a resolution,
    reducing your stress and making you feel you are in control. Stay focused on the
    process you make so that you don’t become overwhelmed with the work that may still
    need to get done. Celebrate every small victory along the way!
    Just like Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendes, keep your eye on the goal and eventually you
    will be successful.

References

Cherry, K. (2020, January 24). Use These 10 Tips to Improve Your Resilience. Verywell
Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/ways-to-become-more-resilient-2795063

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Certified Trauma Professional

We would like to congratulate one of our very own on becoming a Certified Trauma Professional and continuing to pursue training in order to better help our clients! 

Congratulations

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Parent Support Group

Parent Support Group

Sunshine State Counseling Center wants to remind you of our upcoming support groups for parents starting May 1, 2020. We are offering two free support groups on Friday’s:

  • 12:00 PM for parents who are fluent in English
  • 4:00 PM for parents who are fluent in Spanish.

We, as a practice, believe that all individuals have the right to feel supported, heard, and understood. This group will focus on positive parenting and providing parent to parent support. If there is a parent that you know would benefit from this, have them call us at 239-495-7722 to be added.

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Social Distancing and The Blues

I want you to take a long deep breath before you begin reading. Ready, let’s breathe in through your nose(as if you were smelling a flower) …………hold it……and thenlet’s breath out through our mouths (like blowing out a birthday candle). During the past four weeks we have been bombarded about the importance of staying safe to promote our health and the guidelines to reduce the spread of the coronavirus by social distancing. Sometimes we need a moment to regulate ourselves, and breathing can do just that.

Even with the of multitude of information we have been presented over the last few weeks, howwe process our feelings during this time over social distancing has not been addressed. The lack of physical contact and authentic connection with individuals can present a multitude of health problems such as anxiety, depression, irritability, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating and much more. The importance of touch to our humanity is engrained from the moment we are born. A mother’s touch to their newborn child releases Oxytocin( your feel good chemical in your body) in the mother’s body promoting the attachment between mother and child. How can we touch in a safe way during this uncertain time? Some of us have pets and families that are living with us during this time. Take the time to hold these individuals and breath in and out while engaging in these behaviors. This increases the oxygen to our brains, promote our engagement in the present moment, acts as a regulator for our emotions and releases Oxytocin within our bodies. We can even hug ourselves to produce the same effects!

Sometimes a simple hug is not enough for some individuals and they require a deeper connection. At our fingertips we have a powerful device that is able to connect us across oceans. Our phones can provide us with real time connections with individuals we love in a way that follows the Center for Disease Control guidelines. By connecting with each other, even virtually we are sharing laughs, creating memories, promoting conversations which continues the human connection we are all engrained to promote and engage in. Exercising, is another great way to promote the release of endorphins (another feels good chemical) in your body. Not only can exercise help you feel better it can also aid in regulating emotions. Incorporating exercising into a routine has been studied and has shown it improves daily functioning, increases mood, and increases ability to sleep.

All in all, social distancing at the moment is the best method in preventing the spread of the Coronavirus. Although, this does not mean you can allow it create anxiety, depression, irritability, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating or much more within yourself and your families. We overviewed about the importance of breathing as a form of regulation, different ways physical touch can benefit us and how to safely do it, and we reviewed the benefits of exercise and routines to elevate our moods. We hope you and your loved ones have found this informative and remember, let your light shine from within.

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What’s What Wednesday: Safe Hands Group

What’s What Wednesday: Safe Hands Group

This week Sunshine State Counseling is focusing on safe space and social skills. We believe educating our children on personal boundaries, safety and self-expression are detrimental for their evolution in the school system. Soon, Sunshine State Counseling will be offering an educational program for children between the ages of 7-10. This four-week Safe Hands program is an educational program that assists children and their caregivers with an understanding of social skills, personal boundaries, communication, self-expression, and safety.

Topics that will be covered in group include:

-Communication: Good Surprises and Bad Secrets

-Strangers vs. People we know

-Good Touch/ Bad Touch

-Body Safety

All covered topics are developmentally appropriate for ages seven to ten. If you have a child or know a child who would benefit from this group, please have their caregiver call us to register at 239-495-7722.

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Spring Break Safety: Travel Tips for Teens and Families

Spring Break can be something that families look forward to whether traveling or staying home. Parents may have worries about communicating with their teen, what their teen will do on this trip if they are not around, etc. If spring break does include travel, you may want to consider how to assist your teen in having the safest trip possible. This week we are providing safety tips that may ease your mind and help your teen have a fun and safe trip on their spring break vacation.

  • Keep in Touch

If teens are traveling, most of the time it is the parents who pay for the trip. Feel comfortable in setting limits on your child’s travel companions and destination.

Text messages and phone calls can help remind your children of the limits both of you agreed to before they left. Contacting your children and asking about what they are doing also can reduce the tension parents feel over what they can’t see or control.

  • Research

Get background information about the specific destination, travel warnings, and public announcements detailing any serious crime, terrorism, health risks, natural disasters or other dangers for specific countries.

  • Have a frank talk

Parents can start by having a frank discussion with their children, says psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD. Start by reminding your children what spring break is all about.

  • Stick with friends you know and trust

Never go out alone or leave a safe place with strangers. Even if you meet people who seem friendly, they might not have the best intentions.

  • Go with your gut

Be aware of your surroundings. If you feel like something is not right, trust your instincts. If you are being followed the Office of International Education at the University of Richmond suggests, “Step into a store or other safe place and wait to see if the person you think is following has passed.”

  • Lock Up

When going out make sure you leave your important valuables and documents in your hotel’s safe deposit box. Try to steer away from wearing expensive jewelry or other valuables in areas that you are not familiar with.

  • Stay safe in your hotel room

A spring break safety tip sheet from Longwood University recommends the following: “Ensure there is a peep hole in the door and that the dead bolt and other locks are in good working order. Never open your door to anyone you do not know. If the person states they work for the hotel, call the front desk and confirm this before allowing them entry.”

  • Choose Transportation Wisely

Use recommended shuttle services or buses to get around. Only use reputable, licensed taxi services. If using riding services such as Uber or Lyft, try to go with a friend and make sure to verify the license plate number and name before getting inside.

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Reactive Attachment Disorder

Having your child disobey you, throw temper tantrums, and completely ignore you at times can be difficult, however, it is important to remember that our children are growing and going through different developmental stages. With each stage and age there are behaviors that are appropriate, while frustrating, are not of clinical concern; for example: a toddler that does not want to share, a child who throws things, a tween who refuses to go to bed early, or a teenager who wishes to spend more time with friends rather than parents.

Many times, we might link these behavioral issues to a condition called Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), however, RAD is a difficulty connecting with others and managing emotions, resulting in a lack of trust and self-worth, a fear of getting close to anyone, anger, and a need to be in control. Reasons as to why this may occur can be due to persistent disregard of the child’s emotional needs for comfort, stimulation, and affection. A child with RAD feels unsafe, alone, and may push others away out of fear, anger, and a variety of other emotions.

Inhibited Reactive Attachment Disorder vs. Disinhibited Reactive Attachment Disorder

As children with Reactive Attachment Disorder grow older, they often develop either an inhibited or a disinhibited pattern of symptoms:

Inhibited symptoms of RAD. The child is extremely withdrawn, emotionally detached, and resistant to comforting. The child is aware of what is going on around them—hypervigilant even—but does not react or respond. They may push others away, ignore them, or even act out in aggression when others try to get close.

Disinhibited symptoms of RAD. The child does not seem to prefer their parents over other people, even strangers. The child seeks comfort and attention from virtually anyone, without distinction. They are extremely dependent, act much younger than their age, and may appear chronically anxious.

Reactive Attachment Disorder is commonly found in but not limited to the following:

  • An infant who is repeatedly left unattended when in distress may begin to form detachment from their caregiver.
  • Children who received grossly negligent care.
  • Children who do not form a healthy emotional attachment with their primary caregivers.
  • Children who have been adopted and or not residing with their primary caregiver.
  • Children who reside in and or have been in/out of the foster care system.
    • Repeated changes of primary caregivers that prevent formation of stable attachments such as frequent changes in foster care, may exacerbate avoidance and inhibition.
  • Where significant trauma has occurred by a primary caregiver.

Parenting a child who has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

Have realistic expectations. Helping your child may be a long road. Focus on making small steps forward and celebrate every sign of success.

Stay patient. The process may not be as rapid as you would like, and you can expect bumps along the way. By remaining patient and focusing on small improvements, you create an atmosphere of safety for your child.

Foster a sense of humor. Joy and laughter go a long way toward repairing attachment problems and energizing you even in the midst of hard work. Find at least a couple of people or activities that help you laugh and feel good.

Set limits and boundaries. Consistent, loving boundaries make the world seem more predictable and less scary to children with attachment issues. It is important that they understand what behavior is expected of them, what is and is not acceptable, and the consequences if they disregard the rules. This also teaches them that they have more control over what happens to them than they think.

Take charge yet remain calm when your child is upset or misbehaving. Remember that “bad” behavior means that your child does not know how to handle what they are feeling and needs your help. But never discipline a child with an attachment disorder when you are in an emotionally charged state. This makes the child feel more unsafe and may even reinforce the bad behavior, since it is clear that it pushes your buttons.

Be immediately available to reconnect following a conflict. Conflict can be especially disturbing for children with attachment disorders. After a conflict or tantrum where you have had to discipline your child, be ready to reconnect as soon as they are ready. This reinforces your consistency and love and will help your child develop a trust that you will be there through thick and thin.

Own up to mistakes and initiate repair. Your willingness to take responsibility and make amends can strengthen the attachment bond. Children with attachment issues need to learn that although you may not be perfect, they will be loved, no matter what.

Try to maintain predictable routines and schedules. A child with an attachment disorder will not instinctively rely on loved ones and may feel threatened by transition and inconsistency—when traveling or during school vacations, for example. A familiar routine or schedule can provide comfort during times of change.

Identify actions that feel good to your child. If possible, show your child love through rocking, cuddling, and holding—attachment experiences they missed out on earlier. But always be respectful of what feels comfortable and good to your child. In cases of previous abuse, neglect, and trauma, you may have to go very slowly because your child may be very resistant to physical touch.

Respond to your child’s emotional age. Children with attachment disorders often act like younger children, both socially and emotionally. You may need to treat them as though they were much younger, using more non-verbal methods of soothing and comforting.

Help your child identify emotions and express their needs. Children with attachment problems may not know what they are feeling or how to ask for what they need. Reinforce the idea that all feelings are okay and show them healthy ways to express their emotions.

Listen, talk, and play with your child. Carve out times when you are able to give your child your full, focused attention in ways that feel comfortable to them. It may seem hard to drop everything, eliminate distractions, and just live in the moment, but spending quality time together provides a great opportunity for your child to open up to you and feel your focused attention and care.

Everyday activities to help foster a closer bond with yourself and child:

  • Eat dinner as a family and do your best to have it at the same time each day to create a sense of consistency for your child.
  • Have set play times outdoors that will encourage your child to play with you as a team. This will remind your child that you as the parent are always on their side.
  • Play show and tell. Have your child show you one thing they completed at school and share what you have done as well. This will allow your child to feel as if what they do on a daily basis is of importance.
  • Hug your child when they go to school and come back from school. Be mindful that you will have to start slow because they may be hesitant to your touch.
  • Invite your child to make their favorite food along with you. This can give you the opportunity to spend quality time together and to get to know them more in an easy going and playful manner.
  • Remind your child that you love them regardless of any mistakes they make. Assure them that you make mistakes as well and that you are not perfect.
  • Listen to music and/or sing along with your child. Finding out what their favorite genre of music can facilitate conversations about their interests. Music allows for a connection between individuals. Research has found that listening to music releases oxytocin, known as a “love hormone” that promotes feelings of love, bonding, and well-being.
  • Go on dates. They can range from going to dinner, watching a movie, going to a concert, going shopping, etc. Again, be patient with your child and ease into these activities.

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What’s What Wednesday: Teen Girls Empowerment Group Reminder

What’s What Wednesday: Teen Girls Empowerment Group Reminder

Sunshine State Counseling wants to remind you of our upcoming Teen Girls Empowerment Support Group that starts Wednesday, February 5!  This group will focus on empowering young girls, while also creating a safe space to open up and discuss several important topics that teens face each day. If you know of a teen girl that would benefit from this group, please have them call us to register at 239-495-7722.

A sneak peek of what to expect from group:

  • Meeting new people that are faced with similar situations/challenges
  • Gaining insight on ways to improve self-esteem, self-worth, and its importance
  • How to communicate openly, honestly and respectfully with peers and parents/caregivers
  • Discussing the differences between healthy and unhealthy friendships and relationships
  • Exploring social media, its safety, and the impact it has on teens today
  • Setting clear goals and visions for your future self

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What’s What Wednesday: Teen Empowerment Group

What’s What Wednesday: Teen Empowerment Group

This week, Sunshine State Counseling is focusing on teenage girl empowerment.  We as a practice believe that all individuals have the right to be comfortable in their own bodies, believe in themselves and live their life to the fullest. Soon, Sunshine State Counseling Center will be offering a Teenage girls empowerment support/psychoeducational group. Throughout 12 weeks the girls will gain insight on expression of feelings, self-esteem, healthy communication and safe boundaries as well as other important social skills.

 

Why is it important to empower teen girls?

 

  1. It’s her right. Every girl deserves to feel good about herself, her body and her everyday life
  2. Empowered girls mean healthier families. According to UNESCO, 2.1 million children under age 5 were saved between 1990 and 2009 because of improvements in girls’ education.
  3. Empowered girls are key to breaking the cycle of poverty for families around the world
  4. Empowered girls strengthen economies: According to a new Brookings report, “Increasing the number of women completing secondary education by just 1 percent could increase a country’s economic growth by 0.3 percent.
  5. Hayes and Fors (1990) report that lower self esteem is often the reason why young girls engage in premarital sexual relationships and is more likely to be responsible for teen pregnancies than any other single factor
  6. It has been found that such programs can significantly reduce the incidence of anti-social behavior in schools, as well as reduce vandalism and the incidents of verbal or physical aggression by 40-50%. (Reasoner,1992, Borba, 1999)
  7. The number of women in corporate jobs is growing everyday. In any career that teen girls decide to participate in, they will need strong communication skills.Most organizations are looking for individuals with a particular, tactical, skill set and the ability to influence people to get things done.

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What’s What Wednesday: New Year Resolutions

What’s What Wednesday: New Year Resolutions

With a new year ahead many of us decide to establish resolutions. People may use the New Year to open and enter into new relationships, experiences, and changes. While creating new goals may be exciting, staying true and consistent to our resolutions can be challenging.

Here are a few ways that may help you stay consistent in different areas of your life.

Ways to Stay Consistent to Meet your New Year Resolutions

Budgeting: In order to have the opportunity to travel and have new experiences, it is important to have funds properly planned. By creating a budgeting worksheet or downloading an app, you can better increase your chances of saving for that amazing experience.

Segmenting: If starting a health routine proves to be difficult for you, then creating SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) may be an option for you. Each day you can try to be active whether through a walk, going to the gym, yoga, etc. Starting with a specific time amount such as 15 minutes and over a few days increase until you can make it to 30 minutes of exercise per day.

Accountability: We can all plateau and that can be frustrating. The key to work through it, is to understand that if change is something you want then it is important to take actions to move towards that change. Hold yourself accountable, ask a friend or family member to call/text/e-mail you as a reminder, set an alarm, make a note, etc. to assist in helping yourself stay on track.

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Preventing Online Scams

Preventing Online Scams

While you sit at home scrolling through the web looking for the best deals, remember to take measures to maintain your online safety. It is important to be extra cautious when making purchases. You may think that you are shopping on secure websites, but there is a chance that you may be a victim of fraud.

 

When you are surrounded by multiple ads and promotions, it is easy to overlook the simplest things.

Scam expert, Carrie Kerskie, finds the following tips useful when attempting to stay safe:

-Checking out as a Guest

-Saving Confirmation Numbers

– Not using Public Wi-Fi

-Using a Credit Card instead of a Debit Card

-Checking the spelling of the URL

 

In addition to these tips, it is important to note that if a deal seems too good to be true, then it most likely is. In order to verify this, you should compare the items price on other trusted websites.

A few warning signs to be aware of when shopping online include: noticing that the online retailer does not provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details. The seller may be based overseas or does not allow payment through a secure payment service, such as PayPal or a credit card transaction.

 

If you feel as if you are a victim of online shopping scams, you can visit the FTC page to file a complaint

https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1

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Thankful & Grateful

Thankful & Grateful

Holidays are around the corner and with that being said, Sunshine State Counseling Center is focusing on gratitude.
As young children we are sometimes taught to be thankful and grateful for the things and people that surround us. Many times, as adults we may forget or find little importance in saying thank you, due to everyday stress.

This week Sunshine State Counseling will focus on informing you of 4 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all of the others” – Cicero (106–43BC)

Long-Term Happiness: Researchers have found that being grateful actually increases your happiness and well-being for the long term. Participants in the study experienced an increase of 2% in happiness the first week, 5% after the first month, and 9% after six months simply through practicing gratitude journaling once a week.

Better Sleep: A study in 2009 found that gratitude helps to increase the depth and length of sleep. According to this study, “Gratitude predicted greater subjective sleep quality and sleep duration, and less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction.”

Protection against stress: Stress is a major cause of psychosomatic illness (or sickness that originates from psychological distress), meaning that gratitude helps to calm the whole body. Researchers have also found that gratitude helps us to successfully deal with stress and adversity while we are experiencing it. Taking situations are they are and not dwelling may also help in reducing stress.

Increase of empathy: Being grateful has been shown to increase empathy and our ability to care about others. Grateful people have been shown to be less reactive, more caring and understanding of other even when faced with an aggressor.

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Body Positivity

Body Positivity

This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is focusing on Body Positivity. Body positivity is asserting that your body is beautiful regardless of societal and popular culture views. EveryBODY deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin.

Many individuals in our society are told “You should workout to look better” or “You are too skinny”, “You look heavy”, etc. Individuals regardless of gender, age, race, weight or socioeconomic status may suffer from body dissatisfaction. A report published by Common Sense Media found that more than 50% of girls and nearly 33% of boys between the ages of 6 and 8 felt that their ideal body weight was less than their current weight.

Body Positivity can mean different things, but all involve the final message, “All bodies are beautiful”. Some examples of Body Positivity are: Self-Love, feeling confident about your body, accepting your body’s shape and size, appreciating your body as it is; including if you believe that you have flaws. One of the major goals of body positivity is to address ways that body image may affect mental health and well-being.

Some problems that can occur from poor body image are:

  • Depression: Some researchers believe that body dissatisfaction may explain as to why women may have higher rates of depression than men.
  • Low-Self Esteem: Research found that individuals who are unsatisfied about their body tend to have higher rates of low self-esteem regardless of gender, age, and ethnicity.
  • Eating Disorders: Research indicates that body dissatisfaction is liked to eating disorders especially among adolescent girls.

Things YOU can do to increase Self-Love

  • Self-Care: Look for things that make you feel comfortable and make you feel good about yourself in the now. Get rid of social media that does not make you feel good about yourself. If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others, you are less likely to feel good about yourself. Follow accounts that leave you with positive feelings.
  • Adopt Body Neutrality: It is okay to admit that you do not love everything about your body. Sometimes faking positivity can be harmful, it is okay to feel neutral or indifferent about your body. Your self-worth and value are not determined by your shape or weight or any other physical aspect. You are more than just your physical appearance so take a moment and focus on the parts about you that you like.

 

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Stress Relief

Stress Relief

With Holiday Season in full swing you may feel the effects through stress, tiredness, irritability, frustration, decreased patience, etc. The Holiday Season may touch on grief (the loss of a loved one), trauma (a previous event that occurred), financial challenges, relationship strain, and more. This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is providing relaxation tips that may help you cope with stress.

The following are three relaxation techniques that could help reduce stress during the Holiday Season:

-Guided Imagery: This involves finding a soothing place, scene, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and focus.

One example:
Bring awareness to the right hand.

Notice each finger of the right hand.

Touch thumb to index finger…thumb to middle finger…thumb to fourth finger…thumb to pinkie finger…thumb to fourth finger…thumb to middle finger…thumb to index finger. Relax the hand. Relax the fingers. Notice the left hand.

Notice each finger of the left hand.

Touch left thumb to index finger…thumb to middle finger…thumb to fourth finger…thumb to pinkie finger…thumb to fourth finger…thumb to middle finger thumb to index finger.

Relax the hand.

Relax the fingers.

-Mindfulness Meditation: For this technique it is important to find a comfortable sitting area, and focusing on your breathing, and bringing your attention to the present moment.

Example:
For one minute, repeat “May I be happy, may I be well, may I be filled with kindness and peace.” You can substitute “you” for “I” and think of someone you know and like or just send love to all people.

-Yoga, Tai-Chi, and Qigong: These three ancient arts combine rhythmic breathing with a series of postures or flowing movements. The physical aspects of these practices offer a mental focus that can help distract you from racing thoughts.

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Maintenance Tips for Couples

Maintenance Tips for Couples

This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is hoping to deliver some beneficial tips for couples on ways to maintain a healthy relationship. Relationships are ever-growing and it is important to maintain that “Spark”.

After being in a relationship for some time, as a couple you may feel as if you have fallen into a bit of a rut. Having routines are beneficial however you may be surprised at how often people forget the importance of random acts of kindness and the element of surprise.

Some important things to remember may include:

Never take each other for granted:

Be aware of each other’s habits and things you both do for each other. Be kind with each other and occasionally say thank you, even for trivial things. Acknowledgement for things that both of you do are beneficial ways to express your appreciation.

Respect each other’s alone time:

Being together is important but of course it is just as important to remember to have some time to spend alone. Alone time can allow couples to reflect on their own feelings and can give them the ability to grow from their own thoughts.

Share some hobbies but have your own:

As mentioned above being together and sharing hobbies is great because it gives you the ability to spend time together doing something you both enjoy. In the same way, couples should take time to explore more of their own interest and of things that make up who they are as a person. Being knowledgeable of their own self-identity can many times make relationships stronger.

Admit when you are wrong:

Admitting when each of you are wrong may be one of the hardest things to do. Doing so may gain your partner’s appreciation and respect if you do, and if you don’t, you’re just proving yourself to be immature.

Be honest:

Couples may have heard honesty is key and that is because it is. Honesty and Communication are the keys to success. Small lies can result in bigger lies and it may lead your partner to think “If they lie about something so small, what other things could they be lying about?” Ultimately, honesty really is the best policy, and a strong couple will be able to work through just about anything together.

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Is screen time related to anxiety and depression in teens?

Is screen time related to anxiety and depression in teens?

New research led by Dr. Sarah Coyne, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, found that the amount of time teens spend on social media is not directly related to the risk of anxiety or depression. They have spent eight years trying to comprehend the relationship between time spent on social media and depression for developing teenagers.

“If they increased their social media time, would it make them more depressed? Also, if they decreased their social media time, were they less depressed? The answer is no. We found that time spent on social media was not what was impacting anxiety or depression,” said Coyne. Experts have mentioned that there is not one single stressor that is linked to be the cause of depression or anxiety.

Coyne has three suggestions to use social media in healthier ways:
• be an active of a passive. Instead of just scrolling, try to engage with people by commenting or liking post.
• limit social media use at least an hour before falling asleep.
• be intentional. Think about the reasons as to why you are using social media. Is it because you are bored or because you actually want to talk to others?

Researchers have discovered that average levels of social media use increase steadily that by young adulthood, that by this time use is of two hours per day.
However, this increase did not predict future mental health. As explained by the study led by Dr. Sarah Coyne, increases in social networking beyond their typical levels did not predict changes in anxiety or depression one year later.

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What’s What Wednesday: Self-Regulation

What’s What Wednesday: Self-Regulation

This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is focusing on helping parents understand how to guide their young children through Self-Regulation. Help your child develop self-regulation through talking about feelings and role-modeling.

Self-Regulation is the ability to understand your own behavior and have the ability to manage your reactions to feelings and things happening around you.

Some examples of this would include being able to:

  • Control impulses
  • Focuses on a task
  • Learn behavior that helps you get along with other people

Self-Regulation is important because it will allow your child to develop socially and personally. As your child gets older, self-regulation will help them learn at school, become more independent, manage stress, make friends and behave in socially accepted ways.

The best way to help your child learn is by providing support and guidance when they need it.

  • Help your child find appropriate ways to deal with strong emotions. Say things like “It okay, I can help you if you like” and “Let’s relax”.
  • When your child experiences a strong feeling encourage them to try to name what they are feeling and what may have caused it. Talking about these emotions may help in preparing for future experiences.
  • Try to guide your child through alternatives to their behavior. For example, “Did you slam the door because you were overwhelmed? What else could you have done to get the anger out?”

Consider seeking a professional if you are worried about your child’s behavior or if you are having trouble guiding them as they get older.

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Social Anxiety: What does that look like in Children?

Anxiety

 

This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is hoping to educate parents on what social anxiety looks like in children. One common question is: What is social anxiety?

Social Anxiety is an intense fear of social situations in which the child may be made fun of or judged. Social Anxiety can cause children to experience strong feelings of worry which can be triggered by different things including speaking in large crowds, reading out loud, and talking to new people. Children with social anxiety may have a difficult time engaging in social situations such as family events, school, sports teams, and even play dates.

Social Anxiety can emerge from a history of shyness but can also arise from experiences such as bullying. The following are common symptoms of Social Anxiety:

  • Dreading social events
  • Fear, anxiety, and avoidance that lasts for 6 months or longer
  • Tantrums, crying, freezing up, failing to speak in social situations
  • Excessive clinging to familiar people
  • Racing heart, shaky voice, nausea, trembling
  • Blaming others for social “failures”

One important thing we can do as parents is teach our children relaxation strategies to allow the rapid heart rate to slowly decrease. Some skills are taking deep breaths and muscle relaxation (squeezing their hands and releasing, tightening their toes and releasing; this technique is also called Progressive Muscle Relaxation). Anxious children tend to have tense muscles when they are under stress, so these are designed to help them relax their bodies and cognitive re-framing. Cognitive re-framing is transforming specific negative events or thoughts into more positive ones. Key goals of Cognitive Re-framing include describing your situation as clear as possible,  empowerment to understand what you are capable of coping with, and brainstorming alternative views of situations you are in.

Negative thoughts also have a role in reinforcing anxious thoughts. Teaching your kids to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts is key. Children tend to have beliefs such as:

  • Overreacting: Crying and wailing when someone touches their hair
  • Personalizing: Getting upset because a classmate did not want to play with them this instant and now thinks they dislike them
  • Assuming the worst-case scenario: Thinking they are going to throw up in front of everyone
  • Worrying and thinking others will see them in a bad light: Worrying and thinking peers will think they are not good enough

Finally, if you feel as if social anxiety is increasingly making it difficult for your child to attend school or socializing with peers, it may be time to seek help from a licensed mental health professional.

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Healthy Sleep Habits

dad and son sleeping

This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is focusing on giving tips for the entire family on sleeping habits. Routines are what most of us follow which then allows us to do well and know what to expect in the day to day. We know getting home and putting the little ones to bed is not always easy, even us as parents have difficulty getting to bed due to workload or chores around the house. We know having a set schedule is difficult but attempting to implement some of the following tips can help the entire family with their overall mood.

 

Here are a few tips on how you can prepare your family for a better and more restful sleep pattern:

  • Keep your room at a cool temperature
  • Limit exposure to light; turn off electronics 1 hour prior to going to bed
  • Make a consistent schedule: Get up at the same time everyday AND go to bed at the same time (This will be a work in progress).
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Avoid eating large meals before bedtime; your digestive system will bother you making you unable to sleep.
  • Reduce fluid intake before bed or make sure to use the restroom before laying down.
  • Try to establish at least one hour of exercise or play time outdoors to create some fatigue to be better suited to go to bed.

These habits are a cornerstone of cognitive behavioral therapy, the most effective long-term treatment for people with chronic insomnia. If sleeping sleep problems persist, reach out to your doctor.

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What’s What Wednesday: Secrets to a Happy Child

Smiling Child

This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is concentrating on sharing tips on how to raise a happy child. Having our children be happy may be one of the most important goals we have as parents.  

Murray, Ph.D., author of Raising an Optimistic Child: A Proven Plan for Depression-Proofing Young Children—for Life (McGraw-Hill). “There may be a genetic propensity for depression, but our genes are malleable and can be switched on or off depending on the environment,” he says. “The research clearly shows that happy, optimistic children are the product of happy, optimistic homes, regardless of genetic makeup.” 

What can you do to promote happiness in your child? Below are a few examples of what you can do to strengthen your child’s capacity to experience joy.
 

Foster Connections 

It is important that you help your child feel connected to you, other family members, friends and even pets. “Connectedness” — a feeling of being understood, love and wanted is one of the biggest protectors against emotional distress, risky behaviors and suicidal thoughts. Having a support group has shown to prevent many unwanted occurrences. 

 

Don’t Try to Make Your Child Happy 

You may be wondering “ I thought I am trying to make my child happy”, but the best thing you can do for child is to stop trying to make them happy in the short term and instead try to for the long term. Try to step back and allow your child to develop his or her own coping skills and the resilience he or she will need to bounce back from life’s setbacks. As parents we normally feel responsible to give our child what they want, when they want however life does not work like that. Balance is important to work towards. 

 

Nurture Your Happiness 

Children are like sponges; they learn from us and in the same way their moods may be affected. Happy parents are likely to have happy kids, while children with depressed parents suffer twice the average rate of depression. Take care of your own happiness and your child will feel the difference. “If parents have a really good, committed relationship” Murray says, “the child’s happiness often naturally follows.” 

 

Praise the Right Stuff 

Murray says, “Praise the effort rather than the result.” Praise things such as creativity, hard work, and persistence more than the achievement itself. Praising your child for things that can be controlled is importantand we recommend to not praise your child on things that are out of their control and potentially fleeting. Some examples of that would be saying they are pretty, athletic or being smart— there may come a time when they cannot keep up that standard and can cause feelings of low self-esteem. 

 

Consistency 

Finally remember that studies consistently link feelings of gratitude to emotional well-being. One thing you can do each day is to name and have your child name something they are thankful for. This could potentially lead to “lasting happiness and foster all kinds of positive emotions.” 

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Suicide Prevention Month

September is Suicide Prevention Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and Sunshine State Counseling Center would like to assist in spreading awareness. This month, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. Below we will provide you with six different ways that we can take action to spread awareness, promote healing, and to give hope.  

  1. #BeThe1TO: Using the hashtag of #BeThe1To is a message which helps spread the word about actions we can all take to prevent suicide.
  2. Ask: Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.
  3. Keep Them Safe: Studies show that when lethal means less available or deadly, frequently suicide rates overall decline.
  4. Be There: Individuals are less likely to feel depressed and suicidal and more hopeful when they have someone who listens without judgement.
  5. Help Them Stay Connected: Helping someone create a network of resources and finding individuals for support and safety can reduce feelings of hopelessness. 
  6. Follow Up: Ongoing contact can be an important part of suicide prevention. Continuing periodic contact is beneficial to show support and care. 

Every 40 seconds, someone takes their own life. By talking openly about suicide, we can work towards removing the stigma that can prevent sufferers from seeking the treatment that could save their lives. If you or someone you know might be at risk for suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

 

 

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Organizing Your Child

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This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is focusing on organizational tips for parents and children, now that school is back in session.  Things can seem or even get messier than usual with the start of a new school year. Parents tend to get frustrated with their child for having a messy desk or missing deadlines at school. With changes including teachers, schools, and classes, your child might feel overwhelmed and setting up an organization system can be beneficial.  The following tips can be used at home or at school:

Here are three ideas to try at home:

  • Enforce time concepts: help your child stay on task and stay organized. A child who masters the concept of time and sequence is better able to get organized and complete tasks.
  • Make a Calendar: Calendars serve as a visual record of activities your child must complete. Having your child write down and cross off activities helps them develop a sense of accountability.
  • Create a filing system: providing a place for everything helps your child not have to go back and forth unsure of where things are. Color coding things based on subject can help things all stay together in one place.

Here are three ideas to try in the Classroom:

  •  Give assignments in writing: Ask your child to write down assignments or have teacher give printed instructions. Having a visual reminder is often useful for the memory of child.
  • Design a folder system that works: Have child work with you to create reminders and add color tabs to point to important dates. Keep trying and experimenting until you find a system that works for your child.
  • Provide additional supplies: If possible, give your child two sets of supplies—one for home and one for school. This way, there is less of a chance your child will forget things and will not have to remember to bring items back and forth to school.

Remember, it is trial and error with children. Remain patient and do not forget to praise your child for even what may seem like small accomplishments.

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