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What’s What Wednesday – Tragedy in Parkland

Sunshine State Counseling Center and the Broward County Crime Commission are deeply saddened about the horrific tragedy that occurred at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, 14 February 2018. Our condolences are with the families of the victims, as well as those who have suffered injuries.

Collier County Public School District provided resources that may help in talking with children and helping them cope with this news. Below is a list of tips from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) about what parents can do in times like this:

  1. Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings.Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help putthem into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
  2. Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient.Children and youth do not always talk about their feelings readily.
  3. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.
  4. Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them.

    Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.

    Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.

  5. Review safety procedures. This should include procedures and safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.
  6. Observe children’s emotional state. Some children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort. In most children, these symptoms will ease with reassurance and time. However, some children may be at risk for more intense reactions. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.
  7. Limit television viewing of these events. Limit television viewing and be aware if the television is on in common areas. Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might be misunderstood.
  8. Maintain a normal routine. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and promote physical health.Ensure that children get plenty of sleep, regular meals, and exercise. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.

If you think your child needs counseling support in dealing with this tragedy or if you have further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s school counselor or school principal.

Sheriff Rambosk and I feel the public can help keep schools safe by reporting any suspicious or unusual activity to law enforcement. Anyone with information should call 239-252-9300 or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-8477.

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What’s What Wednesday – Goals for 2018

With the New Year already under way, you may have made goals or turned over a new leaf for your lifestyle. Many of us know that the new year being new resolutions, yet we do not always keep those resolutions. Here are some ways to hold yourself accountable to the goals you created:

  1. Set SMART Goals; SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound)
    Goals are goals you have to really process and think about setting. You must look at all the parts of the goal that you want to accomplish and make sure they fall in line with the acronym of SMART.
  2. Write the goal down. When writing your goals down, your goals seem to be something you can achieve. When writing your goals down, you can leave them in places like your bathroom mirror for a daily reminder, or in your wallet. This also gives you the opportunity to state that you ‘Will’ do, not what you ‘may’ do. This will shape your mindset to be positive and not doubt yourself or your goal.
  3. Hold yourself accountable or find encouragement in your support systems to help hold you accountable to achieve your goals. Making sure these goals you have set for yourself stay with you, and although you may falter, you get bounce back and work to consistently achieve your goals.

Here at Sunshine State Counseling Center we can also help you work on your goals and how to achieve them. Feel free to contact us at 239-495-7722.

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What’s What Wednesday – Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The month of December celebrates National Human Rights Month. This month is dedicated to standing up for equality, justice and human dignity, and is celebrated worldwide. This major accomplishment has only been celebrated for 70 years. This day reflects on the rights we have as humans, which are not dependent on race, religion, sex, political affiliation, origin, or status. National Human Rights Month wants to celebrate the rights we have and strives to create an understanding that although we may be different we all have the same rights as humans.

Here are somethings that you can do to celebrate Human Rights Month:

  1. Use the hashtag #StandUp4HumanRights on all social media platforms. It can be a picture of yourself, or an action you are doing that celebrates your rights.
  2. Volunteer at an agency that promotes the wellbeing of others. For example, you can volunteer to be a Guardian ad Litem to advocate for children or the SWFL Regional Human Trafficking Coalition to help fight against slavery.
  3. You can contact the Florida Commission on Human Relations, which is a state agency that enforces the state’s civil rights laws. It is against Florida law to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, marital status, or familial status. If you see something or something is done to you that goes against the above stated Florida law you can file a complaint which will be investigated and resolved.

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What’s What Wednesday – Self Care Tips

Self-Care is very important in everyone, and is a great outlet for stress management. When thinking about self-care techniques everyone has something different, they prefer. This week Sunshine State Counseling Center would like to provide you with three techniques and suggestions to apply to your everyday life:

  1. Eating healthier foods. When thinking of self-care, we tend to think about of what we can do physically, but eating healthy is just as important. Be sure to eat brain-fueling foods like eggs, tree nuts, fish, along with vegetables. A nutritious snack can help with your performance and your overall mood.
  2. Set a schedule for yourself. Not only is it important to see what you have planned daily, but it is also a reminder to accomplish your goals you set for yourself that day or that week. Sleep schedules are also important, having a concrete bedtime will help with your overall health as well as set a daily time to wake up to allow your body to get used to a set schedule.
  3. Learn to say no when you do not want to participate in something (an activity, dinner, gathering, etc.) or you already have a lot going on. When looking at your planned-out day, determine if there are things that do not bring you joy, try to let go of that activity and fill it with something that benefits you and your personal goals.

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What’s What Wednesday: Homelessness And Hunger

This week Sunshine State Counseling Center would like to discuss the impact of homelessness and hunger in our Lee County community. Florida has the third largest homeless population in the United States of America. In South West Florida homelessness and hunger are current problems, affecting more than 35% of our community. One way to bring awareness to these issues are through organizations and agencies that are working hard to assist those in need. This week is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week. The goal of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week is to make a difference and share compassion to those who are experiencing these challenges, all while trying to make sure these issues deplete throughout not just the United States, but worldwide.

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What’s What Wednesday: Five Tips to reduce Back to School Stress



back to school pic

Back to school season has finally started ! After two long months of summer; parents, children and the rest of the school staff are getting ready for school excitement. We know how difficult it is for everyone to go back to the same routines, parents walking their children and getting them ready for the day, making sure they have all their supplies, and most importantly a nutritious lunch. Getting back to school is also a very difficult task for children, not only does it involve a lot of changes in their sleeping schedules but also their daily summer routines.  Here are some tips to help you ease back into the back to school hassle.

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What’s What Wednesday: Keep Your Summer on Track

Child drawing a smiling sun on a sandy beach, with beach towel, starfish and flip flops (studio shot - warm color and directional light are intentional).

While summer vacation is well under way your child may be thrilled to enjoy the much anticipated lazy days and sleeping in, the prospect of summer break is not always quite that unalloyed pleasure for parents.

While all kids do better with structure and routine, those with mental health issues including anxiety, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders are especially dependent on the predictable “safe zone” that school provides. Without it, they are more prone to anxiety, oppositional behavior, and tantrums. For the parents who care for them, “summer vacation” can be anything but.

This month Sunshine State Counseling Center is providing you with some tips from the Child Mind Institute to help keep your child on track so summer can be as rewarding as possible for everyone in the family:

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What’s What Wednesday: How Does PTSD May Affect Your Daily Life?


How does PTSD may affect your daily life?

After experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, the individual may develop a group of symptoms that may impair their social and occupational functioning. According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual V, people with PTSD may experience all or some of the following symptoms:

Behavioral: agitation, irritability, hostility, hyper-vigilance, self-destructive behavior, or social isolation

Psychological: flashbacks, fear, severe anxiety, or mistrust, avoidance of people, places, sounds, objects, conversations or anything that could remind them of the traumatic event.

Mood: inability to feel pleasure, guilt, loneliness, depression.

Sleep: insomnia and/or nightmares

Also common: emotional detachment and unwanted thoughts.

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What’s What Wednesday: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness

June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness month. What is PTSD? PTSD is a mental health diagnosis that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic and life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. It is normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months. If it has been longer than a few months and you are still having symptoms, you may have PTSD. For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later on, or symptoms may come and go over time.


You may be wondering what traumatic events can cause PTSD? Types of traumatic events that can cause PTSD include:

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What’s What Wednesday: Essential Oils and Emotional Health

Essential Oils have been utilized for thousands of years to enhance our emotional and physical wellbeing. According to Young Living Essential Oils, some essential oils inspire a positive emotional state as they activate the limbic system.

This week, Sunshine State Counseling Center has listed five essential oils that invite to peace, balance, and joy, bringing to your life an enhanced emotional wellbeing when used by soothing baths, massage, inhalation, or topical application. These oils are: 1. Joy, 2. Lavender, 3. Orange, 4. Peace and Calming , and 5. Jasmine.

To learn more about these five essential oils and their benefit in our emotional wellbeing, reserve your seat this Saturday May 28th at 11:00AM by calling (239)495-7722. See flyer. Untitled

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What’s What Wednesday: Family Wellness Day

Sunshine State Counseling Center, LLC will be hosting a Family Wellness Day on Saturday May 28, 2016 from 11:00 AM-12:00 PM.

 This event is FREE and all are asked to RSVP to 239-495-7722 as space is limited.  Caregivers will engage in a discussion about the benefits of Essential Oils on emotional wellness.  Children and adolescents will participate in an interactive activity where they will learn about Essential Oils and make their own personal diffuser.


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What’s What Wednesday: Life with Anxiety

MHM 2016 Social Media Images-FB Share ImageToday, Sunshine State Counseling Center would like to offer some information about how does it feel like living with anxiety!!

Over 21% of American adults between the ages of 18 and 64 will have diagnosable anxiety disorders in a given year. Anxiety disorders are real illnesses, that are based on extreme fears. Most people experience feelings of anxiety before an important event such an exam, business presentation or first date. Anxiety disorders, however, are illnesses that cause people to feel frightened, distressed and uneasy for no apparent reason. Left untreated, these disorders can dramatically reduce productivity and significantly diminish an individual’s quality of life. Anxiety disorders affect the individual’s body, thoughts and behaviors.

If you or someone you know experience anxiety disorders, Mental Health America has listed seven tips for tackling anxiety:

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What’s What Wednesday: The Stigma of Mental Illness



May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Sunshine State Counseling Center would like to take a step in breaking down discrimination and the stigma surrounding mental illnesses by talking about mental health and sharing how it feels to live with a mental illness. We often hear the clinical terms used by doctors and other professionals to identify the symptoms of mental illness. Often, clinical terms do not do justice to what life with a mental illness feels like. We know that two people with the same diagnosis can experience the same symptom and describe it in very different ways.

Understanding the signs of a mental illness and identifying how it can feel can be confusing—and sometimes can contribute to ongoing silence or hesitation to get help. It is important for people to talk about how it feels to live with a mental illness. We know that mental illnesses are common and treatable, and help is available. Not everyone knows what to look for when they are going through those early stages, and many simply experience symptoms differently.

Sunshine State Counseling Center has compiled a list of how we can combat the Stigma of Mental Illness:

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What’s What Wednesday: Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation Awareness Day- April 25

During the month of April, “Child Abuse Awareness Month”,  we celebrate as well the Parental Alienation Awareness Day- APRIL 25. Kruk E., PhD (2013), defined parental alienation as “programming” of a child by one parent to denigrate the other “targeted” parent, in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child’s relationship with that parent. In most cases, parental alienation occurs during custody battles or divorced couples.

Parental alienation, often results on the child losing his/her relationship with the targeted/alienated parent, which may have emotional effects on children such as low self esteem, self hatred, lack of trust, depression and substance abuse. Parental alienation affects the children’s capacity to give and accept love from a parent, leads them to believe that the alienated parent did not love or want them and in addition, children may experience severe guilt related to betraying the alienated parent.

Every child has the right and need for a loving relationship with both parents, and to be denied that right by one parent, without sufficient justification such as abuse or neglect, is in itself a form of child abuse. (Kruk, 2013)

For more information on Parental Alienation, please visit the Parental Alienation Awareness Organization at www.paawareness.org or call Sunshine State Counseling Center at (239)495-7722 for a free phone consultation with one of our Licensed Clinical Social Workers.



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What’s What Wednesday: Child Abuse Prevention


April is Child Abuse Awareness month.  Prevention is the best hope for reducing child abuse and neglect and improving the lives of children and families. Strengthening families and preventing child abuse requires a shared commitment of individuals and organizations in every community. While April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, you can make a big difference year-round through small acts that help protect children, strengthen families, promote traits that help protect families and, ultimately, prevent the abuse and neglect of children. This week Sunshine State Counseling Center has a list of ways to support families and protect children year round created by the American Humane Association:

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What’s what Wednesday: Four Tips for Healthy Sleep


Sleep is important for children because it can directly impact mental and physical development. Sleep is the primary activity of the brain during early development. Circadian rhythms, or the sleep-wake cycle, are regulated by light and dark and these cycles take time to development, resulting in the irregular sleep schedules of newborns. Instilling good sleep hygiene habits early on in life will promote the retention and sustaining of those good habits throughout a child’s lifetime. The clearest signs that your child is not getting restful and sufficient sleep is bedtime resistance, anxiety about sleep, nighttime awakens, and morning moodiness. If your child is experiencing any of these signs, Sunshine State Counseling Center would like to provide you with these four tips to help improve your child’s sleep hygiene.

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What’s What Wednesday: Sleep Hygiene

What If You Got Paid For Sleeping?

Sunshine State Counseling Center has decided to dedicate the month of April to sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness. Sleep plays an important role in your physical, mental, and developmental health. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute, ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. In order to kick off this month of sleep, we are listing five important reasons to get more sleep.

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What’s What Wednesday: Adolescent therapy and Clinical Social Work


indvProviding therapy to adolescents, age 13-17, is one of the many populations that social workers commonly work with. According to the National Institute on Mental Illness (NAMI) about 4 million children and adolescents experience a mental health issue that significantly impairs them at home, school, or in their social groups. With all of the changes teenagers go through such as puberty, transitioning from middle school to high school, changes during these often volatile adolescent years may strain parent-adolescent relationships, especially when new behaviors go beyond experimentation and cause problems at school or home, or if emotional highs and lows persist and lead to experiences such as anxiety or depression. Therapy for adolescents is highly sought after by teens, parents, teachers, and school guidance counselors. Licensed Clinical Social Workers are able to provide the adolescents with coping strategies, education, empowerment, and determination to overcome social and personal difficulties.

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What’s What Wednesday: Clinical Social Workers and Child Therapy

IMG_5257 2Sandt

One of the many roles of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker is to provide counseling to not only adults but children as well. Throughout the counseling process, a Clinical Social Worker will utilize various interventions, techniques, and theories in order to help their client reach their fullest potential. One effective technique used in Child Therapy is known as Sand Tray Therapy. Sand Tray Therapy is a special type of expressive therapy in which a tray of sand can be used to help the client create and explore an internal world.

Sand Tray Therapy has been recognized as a form of therapy since the early 1940’s and is widely used by Registered Play Therapists.  An excellent use for sand tray therapy can be for working with children experiencing complicated grief, trauma, depression, anxiety, family conflict, bullying, difficulty adjusting to life changes such as divorce, puberty, etc.  and many other challenges when words are difficult to process.

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What’s What Wednesday: Clinical Social Workers guide families through the counseling process


One of the many roles of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker is to provide counseling to not only individuals but also the family. Family therapy is a type of group psychotherapy that involves the treatment of two or more family members during the same session. This is a modality designed to identify and challenge family patterns that contribute and/or maintain behavior disorders, mental illness and in some cases substance abuse. In family therapy, the family unit collaborates engaging on discussions and problem solving sessions to attain family goals and ideally strengthen communication.


Licensed Clinical Social Workers guide families through the counseling process. The licensed clinical social worker acts as a neutral third party, helping family members share many things such as but not limited to their fears, concerns, disappointments and feelings in a non-confrontational way. The licensed clinical social worker often asks questions designed to help families to discover the underlying causes of their problems. 


This week Sunshine State Counseling Center has compiled a list of ways that Licensed Clinical Social Workers can assist families during the therapeutic process:

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What’s What Wednesday: Social Workers and Mental Illness


According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), nearly 1 in 4 Americans are affected by mental illness annually and 20% of them are teenagers. Mood disorders, such as depression, represent the third most common cause of hospitalization for both youth and adults aged 18 to 44. Moreover, adults with chronic mental illness are at an increased risk for chronic medical illnesses and die on average 25 years earlier.

One of the roles of a Social Worker, is to educate and treat mental illness. Licensed Clinical Social Workers have completed the required training and supervised experience to provide clients enduring mental illness with the appropriate clinical treatment, hopefully in collaboration with medical doctors, psychiatrists, nurses and case managers.

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What What’s Wednesday: How can a social worker help my family?


The Month of March is a special month for Sunshine State Counseling Center as we are Celebrating “Social Work”. The National Association of Social Work (NASW) have themed the month:”Social Work: Forging Solutions out of Challenges”. Today, we are embracing the job of a social worker by listing five ways social workers could help your family.

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What’s What Wednesday: How Adults Can Benefit from Play Therapy

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Play Therapy is not just appropriate for children but can also be beneficial to adults as well. Neuroscientists have been studying forms of creativity and finding that some activities are beneficial to your health.

People who are engaged in creative activities will have dopamine released from their brains, which is a natural anti-depressant. When someone is engaged in a creative activity it can take concentration, and can lead to the feeling of a natural high. Many scientists believe there is a link between creative activities and the ability to reduce cognitive impairment associated with aging.

Below are 7 benefits on how Adults Can Benefit From Play Therapy: 

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What’s What Wednesday: How Play Therapy Benefits Children


Play therapy is implemented as a treatment of choice with clients of all ages. Play therapy treatment plans have been utilized as the primary intervention or as treatment for things such as anger management, grief and loss, divorce and family dissolution, and crisis and trauma, and for modification of behaviors such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism or pervasive developmental, academic and social developmental, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders.

Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters.

We have a list of 7 ways that Play Therapy helps children:

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What’s What Wednesday: The Play Therapy Process









As Registered Play Therapists, we believe it is important for our client’s parents to understand the phases of play therapy. Usually Play therapy develops in six stages as follow:

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What’s What Wednesday: Five Positive Impacts of Play Therapy


Sunshine State Counseling Center would like to recognize the importance of Play Therapy as  “Play” is a child’s natural language and toys are the child’s words. Play Therapy expands self-expression, self-knowledge, self-actualization and self-efficacy. Play relieves feelings of stress and boredom, connects us to people in a positive way, stimulates creative thinking and exploration, regulates our emotions, and boosts our ego (Landreth, 2002).

Through Play Therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.

This week we have complied a list of positive impacts of play therapy according to the Association of Play Therapy:

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What’s What Wednesday: Reading to “BIG” children









Is it still important to read to our bigger children? Reading with children at any age continues to be the best way to promote literacy skills, new perspectives and parent-child quality time. Reading aloud and discussing the content of the text, will open the door to your children’s world. The child may present their ideas, feelings and insights about different issues the book may convey.

Today, Sunshine State Counseling Center presents a list of five insightful and educational chapter books you can read with your “BIG” child:

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What’s What Wednesday: Reading Across Your Child’s Developmental Stages

UntitledSunshine State Counseling Center would like to continue to explore reading as it is a quick and simple way to enrich a child’s education and a wonderful way to bond at any stage of your child’s life. Choosing the best books for your child’s developmental stage is important to keeping you and your child excited about reading together.  Sunshine State Counseling Center has a list to assist with each developmental stage of your child’s reading and what areas to focus on.

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What What’s Wednesday: A Book About Unconditional Love

the invisible string


When caregivers read with their children, a space for insight, empathy and expression of love becomes available. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, reading aloud to your children and talking about pictures and in age-appropriate books can strengthen language skills, literacy development, and parent-child relationships.  Sunshine State Counseling Center has revealed a book that is a great jumping-off point for any parent priming their children for success.

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What’s What Wednesday: Five Reasons We Should Read With Our Children


Five Reasons We Should Read with Our Children


We have all heard that reading with our children is important, but have you ever wondered why?

Several research studies have demonstrated that reading aloud WITH young children promotes the development of language and other emergent literacy skills. The conversations and emotional interactions that adults and children have during book reading are fundamental in engaging children with books and promoting these skills.

Sunshine State Counseling Center, has listed five important reasons why parents and/or caregivers should read with their children:

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