Using Imagination to Help Children Understand Their Feelings

pediatric profiler pictureI have worked with approximately 3000 children and adolescents over the last 30 years.  The vast majority experience anxiety and depressed moods due to their struggles and challenges with development, learning and behavior.
I have found that using imagination to help them see their emotions in a more concrete and literal way helps them to begin the journey to self empowerment and understanding.
I want to share a YouTube video that demonstrates this concept.  I have seen it a few times since it came out and it has never ceased to resonate with me in how parents and children/teens could feel less overwhelmed if they could envision their emotions in a way that would allow others to help them.
I hope you find this video inspiring. The Black Dog.
Send me feedback on what you think or who you would like to share this with.

Dyslexia and Me: Dyslexia, Self Esteem and Depression

pediatric profiler pictureThis is an important blog to read about Robin Williams.  I have to admit that I did not know that he had dyslexia although I  was well aware that Whoopi Goldberg had it.

It is so important for us to realize that dyslexia and other learning struggles do have an impact on children.  What they don’t need to hear is that they have to work harder and then they will get it.  What they need is for teachers and parents to realize that the “usual” way of teaching them might not be fitting, and to look at other methods which have evidence to back that they help.  The use of multisensory, structured, language-based reading approaches have been around since the 1930’s but most schools still don’t use them, even for the struggling readers. While the most severely impaired students with dyslexia may not make as much progress they still will make more than with the right brained approach of look/memorize, write and rewrite approach. They need to have the left side of their brains activated in order to develop the phonemic and phonologic neural pathways.

I hope that you approach children differently who are struggling with learning after you read this.

Dyslexia and Me: Dyslexia, Self Esteem and Depression.

Beware of the Bullies

Schools  all over the country started in the last month.  There was excitement about going back for many.  Seeing old friends, hoping to get that special teacher that everybody wants.  Making new friends.

But there were a significant minority of students who looked at the start of school as  another year of torture, humiliation, and fear.  These are the children who are victims of bullies.

What is interesting is that many of the bullies are not seen as bullies by themselves, their peers, the teachers, or the parents.  They are given the privilege of belittling and even injuring their peers, because “kids will be kids”.  The ones being bullied are told that they have to learn to live with others and not be such wimps.

Not all of these students are special needs.  Some, like Jodee Blanco, author of Please Stop Laughing at Me, was a good student, who just happened to feel that all students should be treated nicely.  She voiced her displeasure if her friends teased a special needs or other student, or even a teacher.  She also volunteered to help in the special needs classrooms during her recess and lunch hours.  This garnered her contempt from her peers, people who used to see her as cool.

They didn’t stop at just shunning her, however.  They would physically attack her, leaving her bloodied and battered.  Her parents felt that she must have done something to deserve such an action.  The teachers and administration told her to get along with her peers.  This went on from 4th grade through high school graduation.  She changed schools frequently, went into a severe depression, and saw more psychiatrists and other counselors than she cared to count.

I can tell you that I still hear from children that these behaviors occur in their schools despite the no bully policies.  At times it is the teachers themselves who are bullying the students, although they wouldn’t see it that way.

I would recommend that all parents read this book or her follow up book, Please Don’t  Laugh at Us.  Ms. Blanco now goes around the country talking about the horrors of bullying.  I don’t know if she mentions it (but I would assume that she does), but studies have shown that 1/3 of all bullies are themselves bullied, either by peers, or by family members.

We need to understand how to put a stop to this type of behavior.  But it is so much more than just handing out discipline, suspensions, and expulsions to the bullies.  It is creating a learning environment of understanding and tolerance for each other, which for the bullies has to be directly taught, modeled, and given frequent feedback on.  Our prisons show us the negative reactions don’t work for most people.  We have to find a better way.