Parenting 1012019-03-18T16:30:42+00:00

Child Therapy & Counseling for Kids

My Kid is the School Bully – What do I do Now?

Bullying is a big problem in schools today. According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, over 20% of students in 2016 reported being the victim of a bully’s attack. From hurtful words to physical assault, bullies have a big impact on their target’s long-term development. Academic problems, anxiety, and depression are just a few of the negative side effects of being bullied.

What happens when your child is caught tormenting a classmate? How can parents help their child find better ways to relate to their peers?

Correct the Problem

Once you’ve found the source of the problem, take corrective actions to stop unwanted behaviors.

  • Create appropriate consequences for continued behaviors. For example, students who are caught tormenting classmates online should lose their internet privileges for a specified length of time.
  • Teach your child other ways to cope with stress. Your most important tool in this effort is your attention. Listen with an open mind, validate their feelings, and offer reasonable solutions to their problems.
  • Talk to school officials. Teachers and principals can provide vital information and act as your eyes and ears when you can’t be physically present.

Be consistent with consequences and stay involved for best results.

Find the Source

Bullying is not a random occurrence. There is always an underlying problem. The bully seeks out victims as a way to relieve their own internal pressures. Find out what’s behind your child’s behavior in order to create an appropriate solution. Some common triggers include:

  • Transitions. Changing schools, moving to a new neighborhood, or entering a new social circle are all stressful events. Some students turn to bully behaviors because they think it makes them more popular.
  • Problems at home. According to the University of Washington, there is a strong correlation between home environment and bullying. Are there any issues in the home that may be causing stress to your youngster?
  • Undiagnosed developmental disability. High-functioning autism, ADHD, and other “invisible” conditions make it difficult for kids to understand and respond appropriately to social cues. These misunderstandings can lead to bullying and other aggressive behaviors.

Talk to your child to find the source of their frustration. Wait until you’re both calm and in an even mood before broaching the subject to avoid flaring tempers on both sides.

Empathy and Compassion: The Keys to Ending Bullying

Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s viewpoint. Compassion is a feeling of concern that motivates someone to help another person. Encourage these virtues in your child to reduce their desire to be a bully. Empathy prevents children from taking pleasure in bullying activities while compassion drives them to assist and defend others when they fall victim.

It’s vital that you don’t take your child’s bullying tendencies personally. Having a child with challenging behaviors does not make you a bad parent. Your positive attention, loving guidance, and active involvement are more than enough to help your child make better social choices.

Build Your Village Before Epic Parenting Failures Happen

Despite the wonders of technology, our communities are more isolated than ever. Even though we can send videos and texts across the world in seconds, many of us are living with smaller social groups and thin support systems.

A recent survey found that nearly 1/3 of Americans suffer from chronic loneliness. This statistic has a huge impact on our communities. For many of us, the network of neighbors, friends, and extended family members we used to rely on to help raise our children no longer exists naturally. How does the increase in social isolation affect your ability to parent? How can parents without a strong social safety net create a village to help them raise their children into capable and well-adjusted adults?

DIY Village for Isolated Families

The good news is that communities can be created. Use these techniques to build up your social support systems.
Building a village is all about making connections. Talk to teachers, coaches, and everyone else who plays a role in your child’s life.

  • Get to know your neighbors. Make an effort to chat with them when you pass by, invite them over for snacks, and involve them in your life. Your neighbors are a vital part of keeping kids safe while they play outside and explore their physical surroundings.
  • Whether you’re a breastfeeding mom, stay-at-home dad, or anything in-between, there is an online group with information, chat boards, and emotional support. In larger cities, there may be local group meetings you can attend.
  • Sign up for parenting classes. This is a great place to meet other parents, find potential babysitting sources, and learn some new strategies.

Raise your children in a village mindset to reduce stress, avoid health issues, and to give your children a solid foundation on which to grow.

Parenting Fails: Life Without a Village

Even in the most ideal situations, parenting is tough. Without a support network, the hard times can seem almost impossible. These are some of the common consequences that occur when parents lack the presence of other adults to aid in the care, supervision, and education of their children.

  • Increased pressure on parents to perform the duties once shared by the community. Parents lose the ability to set clear priorities and goals as they attempt to juggle multiple responsibilities. In the end, this makes them less effective in all their endeavors.
  • Increased anxiety for parents and children. Humans are tribal by nature. Without clear borders to define their community, both parents and children feel less safe in their daily lives. Depression is another side effect of long-term insecurity.
  • Children are physically limited. Without strong, positive relationships throughout the neighborhood, parents must restrict their children’s outside activities to protect them from potential dangers. This not only aggravates loneliness but the lack of physical play increases obesity rates.

When parents try to compensate for the village dynamic on their own, the whole community suffers.

6 Things People Dislike About Children – and How to Improve Them

Problems With Social Behaviors

Young children with poor emotional regulation skills, those with developmental issues, and teens struggling with changing identities sometimes flaunt socially acceptable behavior in the pursuit of getting their way. These strategies will help short-circuit rude or dismissive actions.

  • Children lie for a number of reasons. Confront your child when you catch them saying something that isn’t true. Rather than anger, however, seek to understand why they chose to not tell the truth. Help them understand why their lie was wrong.
  • Impatient people of all ages complicate simple social functions for everyone. If your child has a hard time waiting for their turn, teach them the finer points of patience by modeling acceptable behavior. Watch your words as much as your actions. Even if your body is still, your complaints will be noted.
  • Impolite and angry speech is unacceptable in most situations. To help them handle big emotions in public, remove them from the situation and give them time to calm down. Talk to them about their behavior. Have them make an apology before rejoining the activities, if appropriate.

Everyone loves children. They’re cute, funny, and inspire us to meditate on the memory of our own bygone innocence. However, their exuberance, constant curiosity, and lack of respect for social etiquette can be overwhelming for other adults in restaurants, churches, and other public places. Here are six things your kids might be doing that frustrate or cause discomfort for other people and some tips on how to encourage more positive social behaviors.

Disregard for Personal and Common Spaces

What we think of as rambunctious child’s play is just messy and disrespectful to other adults. Teach your children to respect personal space and common areas to reduce irritation to others in attendance.

  • Yelling, running, crying, and throwing tantrums can disrupt formal events and interrupt everyone’s enjoyment. If your child is having a hard time controlling their emotions, take them to a quiet area removed from the main events.
  • During family celebrations, a physically or verbally aggressive child ruins the fun for everyone. If you know your child is prone to bully behavior, set some consequences for these actions before attending the event. Follow through swiftly if an infraction of the agreed-upon rules occurs. Immediately remove violent children from the play area before they can cause any harm.
  • Teach your child to practice the same hygienic standards in public as they do at home. This includes using garbage cans, washing hands, and cleaning up any messes they make. Unsanitary children are a huge annoyance at eateries and functions where food is served.

Special needs families can help young ones fine-tune their understanding of personal space at home to reduce embarrassing mishaps.

Battling the Summer Slide: 3 Steps to Maintain Your Child’s Achievement Gains

It sounds like the star attraction at your local playground, but there’s nothing fun about the summer slide. According to the United States Department of Education, summer slide is the loss of academic abilities during long school breaks. Reading and math skills take the hardest hit. When students return to class, teachers often need to spend four to six weeks reviewing forgotten material.

Learning loss has a cumulative effect. Students may take longer to catch up, leaving them fewer opportunities to absorb new material. The pattern repeats after each vacation period until the student is so far behind that more advanced interventions are needed.

Preventing the summer slide means your child spends more of their class time learning new things. It also prevents frustration and embarrassment, two huge barriers for students with special needs, behavioral issues, or learning disabilities.

Strategize for Maximum Success

  • Get familiar with your state’s educational expectations. During preparations for preventing the summer slide, compare the goals of their upcoming academic year with their current skill and knowledge sets.
  • Make a list of realistic and measurable goals. If your child is behind a full grade level, it may not be possible to catch them up over a 12-week break. You can, however, read a certain number of books, complete daily practice assignments, or finish a project.
  • Make Learning an Experience
  • Learners of all ages benefit from multisensory learning methods. Have younger children practice spelling, phonics, and math by tracing words, numbers, and symbols in the sand, dirt, or salt with fingers and sticks. For older children, online resources with music, games, and video keep them engaged while reinforcing existing knowledge.
  • Summer is for road trips. Use the car time to play games that keep everyone mentally stimulated on the long drive. Don’t forget to download a couple of educational apps on their tablets and phones before hitting the road.
  • Have your child keep a daily journal of their summer activities. Set a word count based on age level and writing ability. Provide stickers, colored pencils, and other art supplies so they can get creative.
  • Make learning meaningful. Buy a science kit, like soil sampling or insect catching, and take it on a hike or your trip to the beach. A child that loves music can learn essential math and reading skills while training on their instrument.
  • Comfort. Encourage. Celebrate.
  • A 10-year study by the social research group MDRC found conclusive evidence that parent involvement improves math and literacy skills. Your genuine interest helps your child succeed. Encourage them to try harder. Celebrate their victories, no matter how small. When failures happen, take the time to comfort them.
  • Your attention, involvement, and unconditional positive regard will help foster joyful creativity and a lifelong love of learning while preventing the summer slide.

Your attention, involvement, and unconditional positive regard will help foster joyful creativity and a lifelong love of learning while preventing the summer slide.

Bullying 101: What You Need to Know if Your Child is Being Bullied

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.

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

  • 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.

Is Your Child Overscheduled? What to Do if They Are

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.
When extracurricular activities start to take time away from schoolwork, friendships, and self-care, it may be time to cut 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.

10 Tips on Good Parenting

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.

4 Ways to Manage You and Your Child’s Emotions During the Fall Frenzy

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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Three locations to serve you

Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC has three locations to serve you.
Please contact our offices for questions, applications, programs, and events.

New Jersey
26 Main Street
Chatham, NJ 07928
Phone: (973) 635-6550

15375 Barranca Parkway Unit B 101
Irvine, CA 92618
Phone: (949) 333-1209

22343 La Palma Ave. Unit 116
Yorba Linda, CA 92887
Phone: (714) 340-0511

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