Counseling services now offered at STEPS for Kids!

We are pleased to announce the addition of Jamie Frederick, LCPC to our team of pediatric specialists! Our team knows how important it is to address the whole child for success in therapy. By providing mental health services alongside occupational, physical, and speech therapy we are able to serve the whole child and family needs while staying consistent with our play-based and family centered approach to care.

Jamie has over 8 years of experience as a counselor working with children from pre-school through high-school ages. She is passionate about supporting all children through a family-centered approach that focuses on the strengths of both the child and family while working on skill development vital for the child’s success. Jamie can help with adjustment issues, behavioral concerns, anxiety, emotional-regulation difficulty, social skills, and more. She is certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and trained in play based therapy. She is able to support children with a variety of conditions and concerns through individual, group, and family based treatment approaches.

Interested in accessing Jamie’s services for your child? STEPS for Kids knows how important this decision is. We offer a free 30 minute parent meeting with Jamie so that families can meet Jamie, discuss their immediate concerns, and be sure that Jamie is a good fit before scheduling that first appointment for their child.

Contact us today to discuss scheduling with Jamie or any of our pediatric specialists. 630-552-9890 or info@rightstepsforkids.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strategies to Help Calm an Anxious Child

Helping Anxious Kids

According to the Child Mind Institute, anxiety is the most common emotional problem in children. It can manifest as common fears of the dark, separation issues, problems with social interaction, or persistent worries that interrupt daily activities and sleep.

While some anxious kids are cautious and shy, others have tantrums and emotional meltdowns. Some children withdraw while others develop elaborate rituals to help them feel in control of the world of around them. Anxiety can be an underlying factor in symptoms of sensory processing disorder, with children developing anxiety related to aversive sensory experiences.

Conversely, anxiety can trigger increased symptoms of sensory processing issues, such as intense sensitivity to tactile or auditory input in the presence of anxiety related to school attendance, test taking, social activities or other stressors. Understanding that anxiety may be influencing a child’s behavior is the first step toward finding resolution for a challenging behavior.

Addressing anxiety is often the key to helping children feel secure and confident so they can successfully navigate participation in everyday activities. At STEPS for Kids we recognize how even a little anxiety can have a big impact. Providing the right support and a caring environment can make all the difference in reducing a child’s anxiety.

Quick Strategies to Help Calm an Anxious Child

There are many ways to help a child relax when feeling nervous. Here are some of our favorites that we recommend to parents.

  • Redirect with cognitive tasks or humor: Ask the child to perform a cognitive task like naming animals, doing simple math, or telling jokes
  • Redirect with a task: ask the child for help with a simple chore or activity, involve them in physical activity like jogging in place or doing an obstacle course
  • Breath Activities: Belly breathing with cues like “Smell the flower, blow out the candle” or Breathe a Star by breathing in then out as you follow the outline of a star with your finger for five full breaths
  • Provide hugs, comfort, and a calming space depending on the child’s individual preference
  • Offer empathy by recognizing the feelings and expressing understanding without judging or criticizing the child’s emotional state

Reduce Anxiety and Avoid the Meltdown

Our goal is always to help children learn the skills they need to reduce anxiety through improved task performance, increased self-awareness, and independence in self-advocacy. We help parents to understand their child’s perspective and to practice empathy for their child’s experiences and needs. By focusing on skills, we recognize that all children are capable of new learning that reduces or eliminate meltdowns.

Teaching proactively is more effective than punishments for “bad behavior” that many parents use in an attempt to manage meltdowns. Keep in mind that children in the midst of a meltdown at the peak of the anxiety curve – no learning occurs due to the intensity of the emotional experience. Teaching when the child is calm is the most effective way to influence behaviors.

To learn more about anxiety in children and for more ideas for calming, read this post or contact us today for more information.

 

Anxious Kids

Helping your Child with Anxiety

Does your child get worked up easily? Does she stay awake worrying about things that may or may not happen? Does he stress over everyday interactions? It can be difficult to see your child struggle in this way, but there are a wealth of resources available to help you help them cope.

Here are a few of my favorite blogs, articles and references with great ideas and tools for helping your child through their most anxious moments:

I love the website gozen.com for a great introduction to anxiety in children, and I always recommend it in my course. It’s a great resource for parents and professionals, an entire program to help with anxiety and OCD in kids. Here is a great post GoZen shared on Huffington Post.

I really like this page at Coping Skills for Kids. There are so many good ideas for calming strategies!

This site at The Chaos and the Clutter is very helpful – an anti-anxiety kit for kids, and they even explain how bet to use it.

Click on “Youth” at this site from AnxietyBC for pages created just for your kids; I encourage you to review their pages directly with your child, too.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth understanding of the anxiety your child is feeling, this article from Parents is very informative.

If you’re concerned about your child’s anxiety, hopefully these resources will give you a few ideas and tools to begin to help them. For more custom input, get in touch with STEPS for Kids today.

Tantrum or Meltdown? How to tell, and what to do.

One of the most frequently asked questions we get about child behavior is whether a child is engaging in a tantrum or having a “meltdown.” Do you know the difference, or the unique response each one requires?

Most people view tantrums as behavior that a young child engages in to get what they want, to manipulate the situation, or to otherwise gain attention from adults. These are behavioral outbursts to avoid bedtime, get an extra dessert or delay finishing homework.

On the other hand, the word “meltdown” has come to refer to behavior that is characteristically out of control, highly emotional, and often prompted by external factors such as sensory information (loud sounds, overwhelming environment, etc). A child on the spectrum might experience a meltdown after hearing a loud siren or experiencing a negative texture, for example.

How we define these behaviors reflects our perspective toward these behaviors. At STEPS for Kids we emphasize an empathic approach to understanding the child and teaching the necessary skills to reduce BOTH tantrums and meltdowns.

Here are some quick tips to understanding and managing these most challenging behaviors. Download the PDF version here.

Tantrum or Meltdown How To Tell

Community Education Series: Fall 2013

We have a great line-up of topics and speakers this fall that you won’t want to miss! FREE programs packed with information for you to put to use immediately with the children in your life!

Next week we are pleased to be hosting Crystal Hoffert, OD and Samantha Hoffert, OVT discussing Vision, Learning and Behaviors.  Dr. Hoffert will be explaining what a developmental vision examination includes, how motor control of the eyes and visual processing impact learning, motor skills and behaviors and what vision therapy is.  She and Ms. Hoffert (vision therapist) will be answering your questions about vision and how to determine whether visual problems may be contributing to your child’s difficulty at home or school.

October 8th we will be presenting our “Is It Sensory or Is It Behavior?” program, back by popular demand! This program presents an overview of sensory processing disorders, an introduction to “A Secret” that can help you address sensory processing issues during daily activities and challenge you to think about your child’s behavior from a new perspective.  Wondering if your child is having a tantrum or meltdown? This program is for you!

November 13th we are excited to host Veronica Lickfelt, LCSW presenting on Childhood Anxiety.  Ms. Lickfelt will be providing parents and professionals with an approach to Stop, Think, Evaluate, Plan and Solve the issue to help your child through difficult times.  If you suspect or know that your child struggles with anxiety you won’t want to miss this talk!

Contact us by phone (630-552-9890) or email (classes@rightstepsforkids.com) to reserve your spot today for these presentations!

If you know someone else who would benefit from this information forward a link to our website (rightstepsforkids.com), share our Facebook page (facebook/rightstepsforkids.com) or print off and share the flyer!

Nutrition, Behaviors, Learning and Health

Back in June we had the pleasure of hosting Heather DeGeorge, CHC/AADP, PMP at the clinic talking about how what we eat really does matter.  The information she shared with us brought new meaning to the old saying “you are what you eat.”  I am looking forward to having Heather back in the future to talk more about this topic but for those of you who missed her presentation, here is an overview of how nutrition can impact development, learning, behaviors and health.  I’ve used some of Heather’s information and added some from other sources.  This information is provided as an educational tool only and you should consult with your physician before making any dietary changes for you or your child.

1. FOOD MATTERS!

Physical growth, development, emotional balance and well-being are driven by what we eat.  How our body uses and responds to the food we ingest influences all aspects of our being.   Some people experience reactions to food that may or not be true allergies but influence our health significantly.  Food intolerance can trigger immune system responses and metabolic disorders or disruptions can result in the body’s inability to use food efficiently for energy and growth.  Sometimes our bodies are unable to handle the food substance but sometimes it is related to what has been added to the foods when processed.  Understanding how one’s body reacts to various foods or additives is imperative to understanding how to correct the issue.  Allergy testing may be inconclusive or inaccurate and is not typically recommended for young children.  Assessment through elimination diets can be helpful and other testing can be completed by your doctor.

2.  Nutrition issues can produce or contribute a wide variety of symptoms.

The following behavioral and developmental challenges are worth attempting to correct through modifications to diet or nutritional supports.  You should consult with your physician if you believe that any of these issues present in your child may be influenced by dietary concerns.

3.  Changes to dietary intake and nutritional supports can sometimes improve symptoms. (Always consult with your physician prior to making dietary changes)

  • Eliminate the problematic food ingredient, whether naturally occurring or added through processing.  The most common irritants are diary, soy, gluten and food preservatives and dyes.
  • Use dietary changes to balance blood sugar. Improve the balance of fats, carbohydrates and proteins in each meal (including snacks) for better metabolism and use of food energy.
  • Use dietary supplements when appropriate to address nutritional deficits.

When we are trying to determine how to support behavioral, learning and developmental challenges, it is important to consider the food we eat as one possibility influencing these areas.  While food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances are not always the answer for every case, they can be one part of the puzzle.  Often overlooked and underestimated, the impact of food should always be considered when assessing our children’s developmental challenges.  Changing diet and helping picky eaters is the next challenge. We’ll talk about that soon!

Eating right for behavior, learning and development

Please join us on Monday June 3rd at 7:00 pm for a presentation on healthy eating and how food can impact behaviors, learning and development.  We are happy to host Heather DeGeorge presenting “Healthy Eating for Developmental and Behavioral Challenges” and invite you to join us for this information packed evening.

Heather DeGeorge, CHC/AADP, PMP has worked in private practice as a health and wellness coach and is committed to helping individuals and families improve their health and change their lives by addressing nutritional issues.  Heather has followed a long personal journey into health, first with her own needs and then with those of her developmentally delayed son.  Drawn to learn more about the impact of nutrition on overall health, Heather now teaches others about how true it is that “you are what you eat.”

On June 3rd, Heather will be talking about the complex relationship between food, digestion, allergies, neurological system function and the immune system. She will discuss researched based ways to put changes in place that can help your child eat healthier and change their behaviors while supporting healthy development.  Come learn how food may be influencing your child from within and, more importantly, how you can make changes for the better!

This class is FREE but registration is requested. Please contact us at the clinic by phone or email to register today!  630-552-9890  OR  classes@rightstepsforkids.com

Toddlers, Tantrums and Transitions

One of the biggest challenges in parenting young children is helping them move smoothly from one developmental stage to the next.  Change can rock anyone’s boat, especially for children who may not have the skills in place to handle the demands of change.  When your child has exceptional needs, the challenge for parents includes adapting your techniques to fit each child’s needs.  Parents often discover that what worked for one isn’t working for the next.  A daunting task, indeed. Who said parenting was going to be easy?!

If you are looking for support and guidance to navigate the milestones of giving up a pacifier, moving your toddler into a “big bed”, potty training and more, we have information just for you!  We are pleased to welcome Dana Burke, M.S.Ed, BCBA of ABC Moms, Inc presenting on Tuesday, May 7th, 7:00 pm at the clinic on this very topic.  Leading Through Life Transitions will focus on the importance of routines and give you practical strategies for helping children cope with the changes brought on by growing up.

Dana has presented at STEPS for Kids before, sharing insight and wisdom about the most important tips for parenting.  With a professional background in speech/communication, special education and behavior management, and her own parenting experiences, Dana’s presentations are chock full of strategies and techniques that are immediately applicable in your “every day.”  Dana will share proven ways for you to maintain a calm and cooperative atmosphere in your home.

This program is part of our Community Education Spring 2013 series and is FREE to both parents and professionals.  Registration is requested as space is limited. Please call or email us to register today!  630-552-9890  OR  classes@rightstepsforkids.com