Family Articles

Fish and Fear

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

About two years ago, we put in a fish pond in our backyard. Before that we had a soothing water feature that regularly sprung leaks, ruined our adobe wall, and made a mud bath for the dogs. That soothing water feature became an endless series of frustrating repairs. So, when two new guys came out for the umpteenth time to dig around the back yard to find the leak, we were pretty stressed out.

One guy with long hair in a ponytail drew us pictures of a tranquil spot that would never leak (he was planning on replacing the rocks with concrete). It sounded good.

About 100 days later after delays, disturbances and more and more money, the guys left. And there was a small pond with some plants and fish in it. We were so happy to get rid of the workers (for those of you who spend lots of time working at home you know what I mean), that we celebrated with a barbeque.


The ABC’S of Behavior

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Most days I think about how dog training has influenced my therapeutic style. If you are a client, you have probably heard some of my favorite dog stories.

I often talk about how I forgot my training and turned my dog Sadie into a frightened mess of fur whenever a thunderstorm rolled through. It was pretty cute when she was a puppy and would cuddle up next to me for protection. I’d pet her and say whatever silly dog stuff you say to your dog when she’s scared. Now, she weighs well over 60 pounds and when she gets too close between her fur, dog breath, and weight—it’s not quite as cute.

Let’s take a look at what I did wrong with Sadie and see what lessons I can learn.


Health Anxiety

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

About ten days ago, Laura and I came down with the plague. Well, OK, not the plague. More like the flu actually. We experienced energy draining fatigue, headaches, fever, chills, a constant cough and even back pain. We spent close to two days in bed and have just now overcome our symptoms with the sole exception of a lingering, but dissipating cough.

Of course we wondered if we could have done something to prevent this malady from occurring. When we saw our doctor, he suggested that we might have gotten our flu shots too early this year (apparently, they reformulate the shots as the year goes on). Of course, he said we had no way of knowing that and, no, he wasn’t recommending that we start getting two flu shots a year.

Maybe we didn’t wash our hands often enough. Or maybe we weren’t sufficiently attentive to getting enough sleep every night. Or maybe we spent too much time around crowds at the mall. Maybe…YIKES! Stop it!


Crawler Helmets?

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Parents often go to great lengths to protect their children from harm. And so they should. Kids need adults to protect them from danger. And in today’s world, parents protect their kids far more than they did in the past.

For example, if you’re in the Boomer generation, you may remember walking or bicycling to school as early as the first or second grade. You don’t see much of that today. And if you took a bus to school, no adults stood around watching out for you.

Today, parents are much more cautious. That’s probably good—at least to a point. I guess I knew things had gone a bit too far when I saw an ad from the Internet the other day which proclaimed:


Sleep Anxiety

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Have you ever awakened at 3:00 am and found your mind racing? You might dwell on making sure you don’t forget some important work issue or start organizing your day to be sure you have time to finish everything you need to.

Or then again, your mind might start focusing on thoughts about how horrible it would be to have a lousy night’s sleep. Such thoughts include:


Behavioral Intervention Plans Run Amuck

Monday, March 5th, 2012

I recently ran across a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) for an elementary school girl. Behavioral Intervention Plans are often a good idea and can be used to teach students to focus better, reduce their oppositionality, follow rules more often, and become more cooperative. These plans usually emphasize positive interventions (such as rewards and attention) although they also employ negative consequences judiciously, when called for.

The original idea behind BIP’s was grounded in something called learning theory. In brief, learning theory proposes that kids will do more of what they are rewarded for and less of what they aren’t. They’re also likely to engage in disruptive behaviors less often if those behaviors result in a loss of something the child likes or if the behavior is followed by a mildly unpleasant consequence.

However, some of the BIP’s that I’ve seen in recent years seem to have lost their original grounding in learning theory. The school girl I mentioned (we’ll call her Nicole) had been failing to follow rules, blurting out inappropriate comments in class, banging her head, arguing with the teacher, and sometimes trying to leave the classroom when she shouldn’t. Here are some relevant snippets from Nicole’s BIP:


Alleviating Kids’ Distress

Friday, February 24th, 2012

anxious  red hairded kidParents worry a lot about their kids nowadays. Life has become more complex and the world seems to deliver a constant stream of unpredictable stressors, challenges, calamities, toxins and traumas. Parents naturally want to help their kids overcome these difficulties and succeed in life. In other words, they want their kids to feel happy, secure, and competent.

So naturally, many parents feel quite upset when they see their kids experiencing distress. At those times, they feel highly motivated to help their kids calm down. To accomplish that goal, these parents will often:

  • Explore what may be bothering their kids
  • Reassure their kids that everything will be alright
  • Hug their kids to help them calm down
  • Talk with their kids for as long as it takes to help them feel better
  • Find ways of making their kids feel better by giving them things they want (e.g., ice cream, money, etc.)

Generally speaking, one or more of these strategies will, in fact, result in both kids and their parents feeling better. There can’t be any problem with that can there? Well, actually there is.


Engagement vs. Avoidance

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

avoiding womanA couple of days ago, we wrote about exposure. The opposite of exposure is avoidance. We touch on the topic of avoidance fairly often in this blog, but it’s been years since we focused on the topic exclusively.

That’s too long because avoidance is arguably the most important thing for you to understand in order to successfully battle anxiety and OCD, or for that matter, most types of emotional disorders. Humans have an understandable desire to avoid feeling distress, anxiety, sadness, and upsets of all kinds. If you’re like most people, when you experience these feelings, you’ll do almost anything to get rid of them. Common strategies include:

  • Abusing substances like drugs or alcohol
  • Distraction
  • Smoking
  • Staying in the house
  • Making great efforts to avoid the triggers for your upsets

 


Getting Anxious Kids to School

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

schoolboy with backpackSome kids love school and others are more reluctant. How should parents respond when children complain about school, start to cry about leaving home, or even have a tantrum rather than going to school?

If your child has reluctance about going to school, start with the following:

  • Talk to your child about school. Is there a problem going on that you are unaware of? Sometimes kids will not really know why they don’t want to go, it’s just a feeling of unease. But in some cases, kids will identify specific reasons for not wanting to go to school. Common reasons include being teased or bullied by other kids or not understanding some part of the school work.

When Feeling Like a Victim Hurts More than Helps

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

As you no doubt know, bad things happen to good people from time to time. There’s no rhyme or reason for it and it’s not particularly fair, but such things do happen. Sometimes these events are quite awful such as serious traumas or illnesses. And when these things happen out of the blue, people often experience a huge wave of difficult feelings.

Emotions such as great upset, distress, anger, and despair are quite typical and frankly, normal at these times. It’s also pretty typical to find yourself railing about the unfairness of it all and the fact that you don’t deserve what’s happened. When these thoughts and feelings occur, generally the person will take on a new role in life—that of a patient or even a victim. And friends, healthcare providers, therapists, and family generally pick up the appropriate role of helpers.


Anxiety & OCD Exposed



Subscribe to this Blog:
Feed

Archives


News



Purchase Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies now! Purchase Child Psychology and Development for Dummies now!

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. and Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. are authors of many books, including Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies and Child Psychology & Development for Dummies.

Subscribe to this Blog: Feed

Recent Comments
  • Shana: I think this is great advice. Starting when my child was small, and she was afraid of the dark, we had a...
  • Gigi: Thank you for mentioning the seeming polarity of Freud with the id vs. superego concept. We could also add that...
  • glutensensitive: you can get tested at enterolab.com for all forms of gluten sensitivity, not just celiac disease....
  • glutensensitive: You can get tested for ALL forms of gluten sensitivity at enterolab.com. The media is not educating...
  • Moon: both my cousin and uncle have bipolar disorder and mood swings. My uncle has this thing where his moods change...
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!