5 Tips for COVID19/Quarantine Anxiety To Start Using Now

Jamie Frederick, LCPC

For many families, the COVID19 Pandemic has taken anxiety and stress levels to a new high. In addition, many of our go-to outlets for healthfully managing our stress are no longer available due to shelter-in-place restrictions. Homes have become our places for work, play, and school with little to no time to prepare for these changes. The good news is, there are simple things that both children and adults can do to help navigate these tough times. The five tips below can be implemented immediately and consistently across all members of the family to help offer a sense of calm in the chaos. 

  1. Focus on what you can control. When our minds wander to all the challenges facing us, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, lose hope, and feel helpless. By focusing on what you can control, you regain your power and peace of mind. For example, you can’t control how others choose to respond to the crisis but you can control steps you and your family can take to keep yourselves healthy. 
  2. Begin or continue to practice yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques, and gratitude. These practices are healthy and lower our stress, anxiety, and depression during times of normalcy. During difficult times, these practices become even more essential to our well being. If you don’t know where to start, YouTube has numerous yoga and relaxation videos for all ages and levels. There are many easy to use phone apps, many of which have a free version, available to teach basic meditation and relaxation techniques that all ages can do and benefit from. Finally, while it is appropriate to feel some added stress, anxiety, and fear when facing uncertainty, writing down or verbally expressing what simple things we are grateful for can help balance our emotions and focus our energy on what is important. You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to start a new family tradition around gratitude. Start today and see the benefits it can bring!
  3. Take things one day at a time. There is so much uncertainty right now; don’t add fuel to the anxiety fire by worrying about what will change tomorrow or next week. Focus on what you’d like to or need to accomplish today. Do the same for children. Also, remember to give everyone a fresh start each day, including yourself. It’s understandable to have bad days, irritability, and increased arguments with family members during this time. Each new day is an opportunity to make the most of your situation and a chance for both children and adults to find joy, be kind, and make better choices.
  4. Rely on your strengths. Look at what has worked in the past and apply it to this situation. What are ways that you and your family have successfully managed stress or anxiety in the past? Physical activity? Art? Talking with friends or extended family? Seeing a therapist? Implement what you know works. For example, maybe you can’t go to the gym to work out your frustrations and socialize/vent to friends, but you can do physical activity at home and use technology to stay connected. Your child can’t attend an art class, but now is a great time to use up supplies around the house and be creative. If seeing a therapist has been helpful for you or your family in the past to help process and cope with stressful situations, consider therapy again. Many counseling services offer teletherapy for all ages from the comfort and safety of your home, including STEPS for Kids
  5. Plan for structure and allow for flexibility. Most of us do our best when we have some kind of structure to follow, whether that’s our working hours, school hours, exercise time, family time, meal times, cleaning schedule, etc. it gives us a sense of consistency and a framework from which to build the rest of our day on. It can be helpful for all family members to have a general schedule and a daily to-do list. This provides a sense of normalcy and consistency, as well as a sense of accomplishment and control, in a chaotic time. However, keep in mind, these are unprecedented times we are living in. If your child was to complete school work in the morning and clean his room in the afternoon but wakes up eager to tackle his room. it may be wise to let him feel a bit more in control and enjoy a sense of empowerment by changing today’s schedule. If a child is having a hard day emotionally (or, if you are!), maybe a quiet day of snuggles, art, movies, and lots of reassurance is a healthier use of time.  

Whatever you do to relieve stress and anxiety, remember that you are not alone. Even though we are facing challenging times that keep us physically apart, we can be there for each other by using technology to connect and engage with others. If you are in crisis, help is available.  If you would like to know more about mental health services provided through STEPS for Kids, please contact us today.

This information provided by STEPS for Kids counselor, Jamie Frederick, LCPC. Jamie has over 9 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 available to support children, teens and adults with a variety of conditions and concerns through individual, group, and family based treatment approaches. Her services are available via teletherapy remote treatment sessions during the COVID19 Shelter-In-Place order.

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

Community Education Spring Series Continues!

It was great to see such a wonderful group of parents and professionals at our program on April 3rd.  We are pleased to be continuing our Community Education programs with two more presentations coming up in May and June.

On May 7, 2013 we will be hosting Dana Burke, MS, Ed, BCBA  from ABC Moms, Inc in Naperville.  ABC Moms provides parenting support for families from the newborn years through teens. Dana is a board certified behavior analyst and specializes in infant care. She also has experience as a speech therapist assistant, educator and parent which provide her with a rich perspective when helping families.   Dana will be speaking about helping children through transitions and offer insights and tips for making changes such as potty training, sleeping in a “big bed”, getting rid of the pacifier, and more.  Read more about the program and call or email us to register!

On June 3rd, Heather DeGeorge, CAC/AADP, PMP will be here to talk about how nutrition affects behaviors and development.  Heather is a health and wellness coach who provides support for individuals and families who are looking for answers to health and nutrition related issues.  Heather brings personal experience, her own journey and that of her son, and a wealth of professional knowledge to the topic of how food and nutrition impact our behaviors, learning and health.  Join us to learn how food can impact the neurological and immune systems, how it can cause health issues and behavior challenges and how you can support your family toward changes that make a difference!  Read more about the program and call or email us to register!

These presentations are FREE and open to the public but space is limited.  Contact us at 630-552-9890, email us at classes@rightstepsforkids.com to register today!

Babies Positioned for Development: Tips for “Tummy Time”

These days there is a lot of conversation on parent forums, in pediatrician offices, and between friends about babies and sleep habits.  One of the biggest shifts in parenting habits in the US has been the result of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation in 1992 that parents lay babies on their backs for sleeping.  Since that time, infant deaths from SIDS have dropped more than 50%.  But along with that great news, there has been a corresponding increase in conditions such as plagiocephaly (flattened areas on the head) and torticollis (an imbalance in neck muscles).  Furthermore, there has been a rise in the number of infants displaying decreased strength in the trunk, neck and upper body, resulting in delays in gross motor skills.  Research supports the need for parents to be educated in the importance of “tummy time” as a means to support infant development.  Time spent sleeping on their backs, riding in carriers, and sitting in positioning devices has significantly decreased the amount of time babies spend on their tummies, which is crucial to the development of upper body strength and subsequent motor skills.

Why is “tummy time” so important? Continue reading

Choosing the “Just Right” Toys

‘Tis the season for kids wishing, gift giving and shopping!  Lots of parents at our clinic ask for help in choosing toys.  It’s wonderful when you can find that perfect toy that not only meets the child’s wishes but also supports developmental skills – a magical combination, indeed!  So, just in time for your holiday shopping, here are a few tips for finding that special something for your special someone.

1.  Consider you child’s strengths and struggles to choose toys that are best for his or her needs.  Think about what your child loves as well as how your child is able to play with a toy.  Make a list with three categories: What the child loves (interests, motivators, etc), what the child is good at (skills), and what the child needs to work on (weakness, delays).  Then find a balance by providing toys that address each category.  Be sure your child has toys that can be used easily and independently as well as toys that require a little help and present the “just right challenges” in play without frustrating the child.

2.  Pay attention to recommended ages for toys and consider your child’s developmental levels to get a good match.   Remember that a child’s skill levels may be scattered among different developmental areas. For example, your 6 year old may be incredible at doing puzzles and can handle those indicated for ages 10 and up.  But the same child may  struggle with gross motor skills and do better with those types of toys that are recommended for ages 3-5 years.  Remember to advise family and friends of any discrepancies or needs in this regard lest they generalize that your child needs the same level of toys across the board.

3.  Think about how the toy is used and how much flexibility is inherent in the toy related to what your child enjoys and what you want to encourage developmentally.  The best deals for your money are those toys that offer a lot of flexibility in terms of how it can be used. This may mean that the toy can be adapted for play in different ways (for example, modifying board games to simplify rules) or whether the toy addresses many developmental areas.

4.  Make sure that your child’s toys include a variety that provides for quiet time, social interaction, pretend play, motor skills development (gross motor and fine motor), cognitive and perceptual (visual) skills development.  Sometimes children will get “stuck” and ask for only one kind of toy or toys with a very specific focus, such as trains or a favorite movie. It’s up to us as parents to help guide those choices, providing the right mix of toys that open up opportunities for new experiences and learning.

If you are looking for some resources beyond amazon.com or your favorite department stores, here are four sites I love for toy shopping:

Toys R Us has a wonderful Differently-Abled Toy Guide

Achievement Products has a wide variety of toys and gift ideas for special needs

Constructive Playthings has lists by type of toy, age or skill

Fat Brain Toys are wonderful products and they provide a detailed list of toys for special needs.

Infant Massage: The Power of Touch

Every mother waits eagerly for that first moment after their child’s birth to hold the baby close.  For the infant, “being touched and caressed…is food…; food as necessary as minerals, vitamins and proteins” ( Frederick Leboyer ).   Infant massage harnesses the power of touch to bring life-long benefits for both babies and parents.  Early sensory input, emotional and physical bonding are essential for the development of all infants.  Infant massage is a wellness technique that provides a loving touch right from the start.

What is Infant Massage?

Infant massage is a combination of stroking movements that provide massage to the baby’s muscles and positive behavioral reinforcers, including eye contact, vocalizations, facial expressions, and mutual interactions that enhance bonding between parent and child.  The techniques used are based on centuries old practices that have been used by parents in diverse cultures and times.   Parents learn the techniques through instruction provided by certified instructors and then use massage at home as part of a daily routine.   While Infant Massage is incorporated into therapy for children with special needs, it is an excellent tool for well babies and those at risk (ie: premature, immune compromised, etc) that all parents can learn

How important is touch for babies?

Child development research has long ago proven the importance of touch for health and wellness.  Psychologist Harry Harlow’s classic experiment with rhesus monkeys  was crucial in helping us understand just how important infant/mother contact was.  Later research has shown that touch is instrumental in influencing metabolic function, release of hormones and neurochemicals that are critical for growth and development.  Many experts agree on the importance of touch as related to parent/child bond, stimulation of cognitive, social and language development and how it influences growth.  For more information on research specifically related to infant massage, the Touch Research Institute provides a lengthy list.

Continue reading

Key Strategies for Building A Healthy Brain – Community Education Program

Please join us on Wednesday, June 22 at 7:00 pm here at the STEPS for Kids clinic in Yorkville for a discussion on ways to support your child’s healthy brain development.  Dr. Patrick Smith, chiropractor and wellness specialist, will be providing information on nutrition, exercise, supplementation, toxins, gluten and how to live healthier in the fast paced, fast food and high tech world.

Light refreshments will be served and there will be opportunity to network with other parents and professionals.   This program is FREE but space is limited. Please call the clinic (630-552-9890) or email us at info@rightstepsforkids.com to reserve your space today!