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Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC

By SFCC Marketing 08 Nov, 2017

The holiday season is everyone’s favorite time of year. All of the lights, food, and festivities tantalize our senses and invoke feelings of playful merriment despite the cold weather.

As adults, we know that celebrations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are about appreciating and enjoying the comforts of home and family. Young children, however, often don’t learn this lesson until much later in life. If asked, most children would say that holidays, birthdays and other special occasions are all about presents.

This obsession with stuff can negatively impact a child’s emotional development. According to child psychologists, children who grow up believing material things will make them happy are more prone to depression, social pathology, and other mood disorders.

How can parents help children develop a more balanced view of gift-giving and holidays?

Confront Consumerism

Children are big business. Every year, advertisers spend between $15 and $17 billion to woo your children into wanting their products. Combat consumerism by teaching your children some basic critical thinking skills.

  • Watch what your child watches. When they are exposed to ads online or during a break in their favorite TV show, talk to them about what it really means.  
  • Make media literacy a game. Show your child how to spot advertising methods like product placement, commercial tie-ins, and emotional manipulation.
  • Use art to help your child analyze commercial messages. Have them make ads for their favorite products. Talk about why they think it would be effective.

Children who understand how advertisements influence their thinking are less likely to blindly accept the message.

Create a New Focus

Give your children something besides presents to look forward to during the holidays.

  • Make a new family tradition. Every family member could select personal items to donate. Or spend a day volunteering at a homeless shelter. Show your child that giving feels just as good as receiving.
  • Skip the gift exchange. Take a family vacation for the holiday. Spend the day playing paintball, skiing, or engaged in activities that your whole family enjoys.
  • A good gift is defined by its thoughtfulness and not its monetary value. Opt for homemade items instead of store-bought gifts.

Emphasize family and experience over presents to encourage a healthier view of holiday exchanges.

True Happiness Through Giving

Teaching your child to enjoy giving and sharing with others offers a variety of psychological benefits.

  • Gift-giving releases endorphins in the brain. These chemicals are associated with feelings of joy, peace and happiness.
  • Sharing with others cements bonds and helps create social networks your child can call on throughout their lives.
  • Children learn empathy and compassion. These traits ensure stronger, more meaningful relationships. There is some evidence that these traits may also help protect the immune system from the negative impacts of stress.

By teaching our children to value people and experience over possessions, we can overcome the effects of uncontrolled consumerism.

--Deanna Cupo, MSW

By SFCC Marketing 06 Nov, 2017

Statistics show that one out of every four school children in the United States has been bullied. Prolonged and unchecked, bullying can contribute to depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems for the victim. In extreme cases, bullying can lead to thoughts of suicide.

For a parent trying to help their child deal with bullies, it’s important to get the facts when deciding the best course of action.

What Is Bullying?

Bullying is defined as aggressive behavior between children. This behavior has two distinguishing features:

  • The behaviors happen repeatedly.
  • Threats, teasing, spreading rumors, and exclusion are common tactics bullies use to assert their power over victims.

The aggressor uses their power to control another child. Types of bullying include verbal, physical, and cyber-bullying.

Peer conflict is a natural part of child development and should not be confused with bullying. Bullying is not:

  • An isolated act of aggression or confrontation.
  • A child who doesn’t like you.
  • Accidents, forgetfulness, or clumsiness.
  • The desire to control the rules of cooperative play.
  • Disagreements.

What Can a Parent Do?

Our parental instincts tell us to use whatever power we have to protect our offspring. But instead of immediately calling a meeting of every teacher, parent, and school administrator involved, use the opportunity to teach your child some important life skills.

  • Make a list of problematic behaviors used by the bullies. Organize the list into three categories: Ignore, Confront, and Get Help. Things like name-calling or funny looks can be ignored with enough willpower. Actions like touching or other invasions of personal space can be confronted with a firm declaration of their boundaries (ex. Don’t touch my hair.). Potentially harmful behavior like pushing or hitting requires adult intervention.
  • Have your child make a list of people at school who will help if problems with bullies occur. Your child’s teacher, a counselor, or other favorite staff members will gladly be the on-site safe haven for your little one.
  • If attempts to stop the aggressive behaviors don't work, it’s time to talk to school officials. Schedule a meeting with the school principal. Bring your child’s lists. This will help you come up with a strategy for confronting the issue.

What Can a Child Do?

Some simple self-defense techniques can help your child protect themselves if confronted by bullies.

  • Teasing has less effect on confident people. Teach your child to appreciate their unique strengths.
  • Speak to bullies in a calm yet strong voice. Clearly state your boundaries and ask that they be respected.
  • If the conflict becomes physical, instruct your child to run away. If they can’t get away, make enough noise to attract the attention of others nearby.
  • Tell them to never be afraid to get help. Shame and fear are powerful emotions verbally abusive bullies use to control their victims.

Challenge bullies with boundaries, self-respect, and a strong support system to protect your child’s emotional health.

By SFCC Marketing 30 Oct, 2017
It’s no secret that American adults are overworked. US workers clock in a whopping 47 hours per week at their jobs, more than any other country in the world.

Grown-ups aren’t the only ones putting in overtime. A recent survey found that 41 percent of respondents between the ages of 9 and 13 felt overworked. In an attempt to give their kids every possible advantage in the future, parents are filling the family schedule with lessons, sports, and other activities. This can be particularly stressful for children of divorced parents that share custody. Overbooked and constantly changing schedules cause stress, which can contribute to emotional and mental issues.
Do you have an overscheduled child? Here are some ideas on how to help them cope with the demands of multiple obligations and still find time to enjoy childhood.

How Much Is Too Much?
There is no rule on how many extracurricular activities your child should be engaged in at any given time. These guidelines will help you decide if you need to pull back.

  • Is your child always busy? Does it seem like they never have time to just relax and enjoy themselves?
  • Does your child suffer from mood swings, or are they grumpy, anxious, or easily irritated?
  • Are your child’s grades starting to suffer? This is one of the first signs of an overscheduled child.
  • Is your child getting enough sleep? Do they seem constantly tired or unfocused?
When extracurricular activities start to take time away from schoolwork, friendships, and self-care, it may be time to cut back.
Healthy Scheduling

Help your child keep up with their commitments with some simple scheduling techniques.

  • Prioritize. Sit down with your child and make a list of their responsibilities. Then rearrange the list, putting the most important activities at the top.
  • Plan. Use a calendar to create a visual map of time requirements. Be sure to include things like travel time, breaks, and sleep.
  • Balance. If you’re having a hard time fitting everything in, you may need to consider withdrawing your child from lower-priority activities.
  • Insist on family time. Whether it’s daily dinners or game nights, give regular family time the highest priority.
Be sure to leave time for your child to explore the world through unstructured play. Free play gives children an opportunity to learn about themselves. It has also been linked to improved overall social, emotional, and cognitive behaviors in the adult years.

When your calendar is complete, hang it in a spot that can be easily seen. A family calendar system  saves time and frustration for all members.
Extracurricular activities are important to a child’s development. Dance, music, sports, and other pursuits help them grow into well-rounded adults with multiple skills. These activities can also be fun ways for them to socialize. Like everything else, however, healthy limits are necessary to achieve the best results. Maintain realistic expectations and keep the lines of communication open to keep your over scheduled child from suffering the effects of too much activity.

By SFCC Marketing 25 Oct, 2017
Parenting involves a certain amount of discretion. There is no one standard rule for all children. Different children may need different levels of attention, expressions of love, and toughness. Suppose I was standing in a coconut garden and you asked me, “How much water per plant?” I would say, “At least 50 liters per plant.” When you go home, if you give 50 liters to your rose plant, it will die. You must see what kind of plant you have in your house and what it needs. -- Courtesy of Huffington Post

1. A Child is a Privilege.

It is a privilege that this child — this bundle of joy — has come through you and arrived in your house. Children are not your property; they do not belong to you. Just see how to enjoy, nurture, and support them. Don’t try to make them an investment for your future.

2. Let Them Be.

Let them become whatever they have to become. Don’t try to mold them according to your understanding  of life. Your child need not do what you did in your life. Your child should do something that you did not even dare to think in your life. Only then will the world progress.

3. True Love.

People misunderstand that loving their children is to cater to whatever they ask for. If you get them everything they ask for, it is stupidity. When you are loving, you can do just whatever is needed. When you truly love someone , you are willing to be unpopular and still do what is best for them.

4. There’s No Hurry to Grow Up.

It is very important a child remains a child; there is no hurry to make him into an adult because you can’t reverse it later. When he is a child and he behaves like a child, it is wonderful. When he becomes an adult and behaves like a child, that is bad. There is no hurry for a child to become an adult.

5. It is Time To Learn, Not Teach.

What do you know about life to teach your children? A few survival tricks are the only things you can teach. Please compare yourself with your child and see who is capable of more joy. Your child, isn’t it? If he knows more joy than you, who is better qualified to be a consultant about life, you or him?

When a child arrives, it is time to learn, not teach . When there is a child, unknowingly you laugh, play, sing, crawl under the sofa, and do all those things that you had forgotten to do. So it is time to learn about life.

6. Children Are Naturally Spiritual

Children are very close to a spiritual possibility if only they are not meddled with. Generally, either the parents, teachers, society, television — somebody or the other meddles with them too much. Create an atmosphere where this meddling is minimized and a child is encouraged to grow into his intelligence rather than into your identity of religion, race, culture or nation. The child will become naturally spiritual without even knowing the word spirituality as it is natural for human intelligence to seek, the important thing to do is not provide standard answers.

7. Provide A Supportive And Loving Atmosphere

If you set an example of fear and anxiety , how can you expect your children to live in joy? They will also learn the same thing. The best thing you can do is to create a joyous and loving atmosphere.

8. Maintain A Friendly Relationship

Stop imposing yourself on the child and create a strong friendship rather than being a boss. Don’t sit on a pedestal and tell the child what he or she should do. Place yourself below the child so that it is easy for them to talk to you.

9. Avoid Seeking Respect

Love is what you seek with your children, isn’t it? But many parents say, “You must respect me.” You came a few years early, are bigger in body, and you know a few survival tricks, but in what way are you a better life than him?

10. Make Yourself Truly Attractive

A child is influenced by so many things — the TV, neighbors, teachers, school, and a million other things. He will go the way of whatever he finds most attractive. As a parent, you have to make yourself in a way that the most attractive thing he finds is to be with the parents. If you are a joyous, intelligent, and wonderful person, he won’t seek company anywhere else. For anything, he will come and ask you.

If you are genuinely interested in giving your children a good upbringing, you should first transform yourself  into a peaceful, loving and blissful human being.

By Sadhguru, visit here .

By SFCC Marketing 18 Oct, 2017
Yelling, hitting, and fighting between siblings is a natural part of growing up. According to the Mayo Clinic, occasional bickering and name-calling prove that a child is learning to speak up for themselves.

Excess confrontations or physical violence, however, can affect the whole family. Constant fighting causes emotional rifts that erode relationships. Anger and resentment spread through a family like fire, claiming the peace of other members. Frequent fighting may be hiding a more serious issue. Sibling bullying affects self-confidence in younger children that can continue into their adult years.

How can parents help children learn to resolve interpersonal conflicts without verbal or physical violence?

  • Encourage Cooperation
  • Teach your children how to communicate and compromise to reduce conflict.
  • Create opportunities for cooperative play. Build something from wood or cardboard, make a dessert, or design Halloween costumes together. The goal is to have all the children use their talents to help the group achieve a goal. Define each person’s role clearly before beginning the activity.
  • Keep things fair. Make sure there is always enough space, materials, and time for everyone to participate in group activities. Use a small timer for sharing limited resources. Establish consequences for children that insist on more than their share. Explain these consequences before the activity begins.
  • Teach conflict resolution. For younger ones, a game of rock, paper, scissors can be a quick way of resolving issues. If compromise can’t be achieved, let them know to seek an adult to mediate before the situation gets out of control.
  • Prioritize Private Time
As adults, we understand the importance of quiet time to decompress and readjust. This coping mechanism works for children too. Solo play helps children develop in important ways.

  • Encourages independence. Children who know how to entertain themselves won’t need others to do it. This reduces the chances of a fight because someone won’t follow the rules.
  • Improves imagination. Bored children will use any means of stimulation available, including picking on siblings. Solo imaginative play gives them something unique and interesting to share.
  • Teaches independence. If a child knows he doesn’t have to play with another to be happy, they are more likely to walk away when conflict starts.
  • Solo play gives children the opportunity to understand themselves and their needs better. This leads to clearer verbal communication and less fighting.
Real World Value
  • Sibling rivalry is more than a family issue. The abilities to compromise, cooperate, and communicate are skills they will need through life. Motivate your child to use positive interpersonal skills outside of the home.
  • Model desired behaviors by treating other adults in your community with respect.
  • Ask for your child’s opinion when possible, so they know their thoughts are important.
  • Encourage children to use conflict resolution skills with peers.
Helping your children learn healthy ways to express their needs and resolve differences takes patience, time, and consistency. It’s tough, but the effort you put into sharing positive interpersonal skills with your young ones will continue to bring them countless benefits as they grow.

By SFCC Marketing 02 Oct, 2017
Autumn is a time of transition. Just as students are getting comfortable with the new school year, Daylight Savings Time disrupts our schedules. Unpredictable weather patterns, special events, and a steady stream of visitors further upset our plans. The constant changes stress all members of the family unit. Emotional management can help reduce the strain on parents and children.

Transition and Change
Change is hard for everyone. For children just learning to manage complex emotions, it can be even harder. Consistency and predictability in their daily routines help children feel confident and secure. When their regular schedule changes, children cannot predict what will happen next. Feeling unsafe and unsure, they may act out in an attempt to get the attention they need to regain their sense of well-being.

Children also have a hard time with transitions because, like everyone else, they may simply not want to stop their current activities. Even if the activity is potentially enjoyable, some children may balk at the idea of leaving known comforts. This can be especially true for children with special needs, communication issues, or those who are too young to verbally express themselves.

Tips to Encourage Emotional Management
Changes and transitions are unavoidable. Use these four tips to help your whole family manage fall stress.

Prepare them. Talk about where you are going, what’s going to happen, and who will be there. Mention the names of friends or favorite family members they may not have seen in a while. This creates a sense of excitement for the event and reduces confusion and anxiety.

Know their limits. Younger children and those with sensory issues have a hard time with long, loud, or crowded gatherings. If you know you want to stay late, have a quiet space prepared for them to escape and readjust when things get overwhelming.
Be ready to respond. Familiar items, sounds, and experiences can soothe an anxious child. A favorite toy can go far in helping to soothe anxious feelings.

When schedule changes are unavoidable, try to stick to their normal routine as much as possible. This will help keep your child from getting too overwhelmed.

When your child is relaxed and stress-free, the whole family is able to enjoy the seasonal fun.

Importance of Modeling

You are your child’s best teacher. Teach them emotional management techniques by showing self-control.
No matter how upset your child is, maintain a calm demeanor.

Limit choices during potentially stressful times. Knowing you are in control will help your child feel more secure.

Always be honest. A small fib can earn temporary compliance but may damage their ability to trust you over time.

Handling your own emotions is the best way to teach your child how to manage their own complicated feelings.

Change is a natural part of life. Emotional management will help you keep your whole family calm, so you can enjoy the uniqueness of the fall season.

By, Deanna Colette Cupo, MSW
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