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Does My Child Have ADHD? What To Do When The Teacher Calls: Studio 5

Licensed clinical social worker and therapist, Julie Hanks, has a step by step plan to offer support and find solutions to your child’s attention difficulties.


Your child is having problems finishing schoolwork or paying attention at school. You wonder “is it ADHD”? Parents have a variety of responses when the teacher calls to express concern about their child’s school performance or behavior. You may wonder if you’ve “failed” as a parent. You may feel sadness for your child’s struggle. You may want to dismiss the teacher’s concerns. Here is a step-by-step plan to help you support your child, to find answers, and to find solutions to your child’s attention difficulties. You are your child’s best advocate!

Julie Hanks TV Therapist

STEP 1-Get the facts

What are the teacher’s specific concerns? Ask for specifics on problem areas. Is there a certain time of day or a certain subject is particularly difficult for your child to concentrate?

What is your child’s experience? Ask your child about his or her experience. What are they feeling, thinking, wanting, and needing when they are having difficulty concentrating.

EXAMPLE (from a teacher’s perspective) – Krystal, a 2nd grade teacher, says that calling parents regarding attention or learning problems is difficult. “I hate making those phone calls (to parents), especially when the parent just doesn’t want to accept it. A lot of times it is their first experience. Since I teach in the lower grades I often have the first student in their family so they really don’t know what “normal” looks like. From a teacher’s point of view, I appreciate parents who will work with me to help their child be successful in school. I support whatever decision they make in regard to medicating or not, just as long as they are actively seeking help and a solution, too. I’ve already had to have a few of these conversations this year, and it never gets any easier. It’s such a delicate issue.”

STEP 2 – Examine the environment

Health issues, class room distractions, peer problems, family stresses, family losses, skipping breakfast, eating too much sugar or caffeine, sleep deprivation are just a few of the environmental factors that may lead to difficulty concentrating and completing school work.

EXAMPLE – Several years ago I counseled a family whose son was distracted, rambunctious, fidgety, and was having difficulty completing work and getting along with peers. In seeking solutions to help her son succeed in school and in relationships, his mother looked for factors in the environment that may be exacerbating his attention difficulties. She also suspected that there was a nutritional component involved, and found that he focused better when he ate fewer processed and sugary foods. She worked with her pediatrician to find effective medication, and met with natural health care providers to find nutritional supplements that were effective for her son. She also accepted that he was born with a high-energy temperament and needed a lot of physical activity, so she enrolled him in swimming, running and other sports.

STEP 3 – Translate problems into needs

When your child’s teacher identifies a problem behavior, ask yourself “What does my child need?” He or she might need extra time to finish work, may need to move to the front of the room, may need incentives to stay on task, may need to bring work home, a tutor after school to develop academic skill, a therapist to help with behavior modification or emotional coping skills, and more physical activity during school.

EXAMPLE – A family I’ve worked with for several years has a young daughter with Asperger’s and ADHD. The mother, a schoolteacher by profession, understands this concept of translating her child’s problems into needs and is an amazing advocate for her daughter. Here are a few examples of how one mother has helped translate problem behaviors into needs.

A) Problem – not completing work during school
Need – decreased volume of school work as long as she showed competency in that area, bringing home work to finish  at home

B) Problem – difficulty staying on task at school
Need – behavioral charts to reinforce completion of work, ADHD medication, frequent breaks from learning to exert physical energy

C) Problem – angry outbursts, self-harming behavior
Need – healthier ways to express frustration and anger, individual and family therapy

STEP 4 – Focus on your child’s strengths

Every child has strengths that will help him or her overcome life challenges. Many children who have attention difficulties have other strengths including creativity, sensitivity, energy, independence, and flexibility.

In which area does your child have natural strengths and abilities? Howard Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences is a helpful tool in identifying your child’s natural intelligence.

• Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
• Logical-mathematical intelligence    (“number/reasoning smart”)
• Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
• Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
• Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
• Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
• Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
• Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

Which style best describes your child’s learning style? How can you use you adapt your child’s educational experience to his or her learning style?

Visual
Auditory
Kinesthetic

STEP 5 – Build a support team

Solutions are a team effort with the child, teacher, parents, and school counselor. Put a specific behavioral plan in place that all agree on to help your child succeed. If problems persist, consult a pediatrician or child therapist for help with a specific diagnosis and treatment options for ADD/ADHD.

EXAMPLE – Recently, I worked with a blended family whose son has been diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety. Their multidisciplinary support team includes his schoolteacher overseeing behavioral interventions at school, a child psychiatrist monitoring medication, a social skills group to help their son get along better with peers, a therapist to help develop emotional coping skills, and a couples therapist to help parents manage their own stressors.

Finding solutions that work for your child means identifying the specific problems, advocating for your child needs, and building a team to help support your child succeed in his educational experience.

Additional ADHD Web Resources:
borntoexplore.org
www.nimh.nih.gov


Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW is a therapist, self & relationship expert, media contributor, and director of Wasatch Family Therapy. Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com for individual, couple, family, & group counseling services designed to strengthen you and your family. We treat mental health and relationship problems in children, adolescents, and adults.

For additional emotional health & relationship resources connect with me at www.drjuliehanks.com and listen to my podcast www.youandyoursshow.com.

How have you supported your child when they’ve had problems at school? What has worked for your child’s attention problems?

Nativity through the eyes of my 4 year old

As we decorated our home for Christmas this year, my 4 year old demanded to set up the nativity scenes. I started advising her to how to “correctly” set up the scenes, then quickly stopped myself, realizing that what she’d done was quite profound. Out of the mouth of babes…

Merry CHRISTmas!

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May you have a Christ-centered Christmas filled with hope and faith and joy in Christ.

Are you a “helicoptor parent”?

I was quoted today in this SheKnows.com article How Not To Be A Helicopter Parent

Here’s my two cents…

Talk them through things. Instead of taking the fix-it route, teach your kids how to address problems themselves, says therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW. Coach your child through peer relationship problems or academic problems instead of swooping in and solving it for your child. Allow your child to experience a full range of emotions. Too often parents try to shield their child from painful emotions, says Hanks.

Read the entire article

Good Parenting is Not What You Think: Studio 5

What you may not know about good parenting

Studio 5 contributor and therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW, shares important parenting skills you might be overlooking.


Good Parenting is not just about you treat your child. I recently stumbled across a recent blog on PsychologyToday.com highlighting surprising research — two out of the three most effective parenting skills don’t directly involve interacting with your kids. In the recent issue of Scientific American Mind (Nov./Dec. 2010)“What Makes A Good Parent?” psychologist and researcher by Robert Epstein, PhD found that while showing love and affection to your child is the most important parenting skills, how you treat yourself and how your interact with your spouse or co-parent rank second and third. While real parents are quite good at love and affection, they report poorer scores on areas stress management and adult relationship skills.

These results aren’t surprising to me and coincide with my professional journey. Interestingly, all of my early training was in play therapy working directly with children, but within a few years I realized that the best thing I could do for children was to help support their mother’s emotional well-being and to support their parent’s in developing healthy relationships. In my practice I frequently see well-meaning parents who don’t take good care of themselves and their adult relationships and their children suffer. A common dynamic I often see in my practice working with divorced families is parents speaking poorly of their child’s other parent or putting the child in the middle of conflict between co-parents, with devastating impact on their child

Improve your parenting by developing skill these 2 areas:

Stress Management

Have realistic expectations for yourself
Take a “time out” when you’re overwhelmed
Practice optimism

Healthy Adult Relationship

Talk positively about other parent
Model affection & communication
Keep child out of middle

The Parents’ 10 Competencies

1-Love and affection – respect & support, physical affection, quality time together

2-Stress management – reduce stress, practice relaxation, positive outlook

3-Relationships skills – model good relationship with spouse/significant other, co-parent

4-Autonomy & Independence – treat child with respect and encourage self-sufficiency

5-Education & learning – promote learning and provide opportunities

6-Life skills – provide financially, plan for future

7-Behavior management – use positive reinforcement and punish as last resort

8-Health – model healthy lifestyle

9-Religion – support child’s spiritual and religious development

10-Safety – protect child & have awareness of child’s activities

Free Parenting Test

Test your competency in the “Parents 10” skill areas. Take this free online test :
myparentingskills.com

Pat yourself on the back for your strengths and then make a plan to improve in the areas with lower scores. According to Dr. Epstien, good parenting skills can be learned and parenting classes can be an effective way to improve your parenting and help raise a happier, healthier child.

 

 

 

Sister Power: How sisters improve mental health

Sister Power: How sisters improve mental health

Studio 5 Contributor, Julie Hanks, LCSW with Wasatch Family Therapy has tips to help you tap into the positive power of sisters.

A recent New York Times essay “Why sisterly chats make people happier” by Deborah Tannen caught my eye because I have five, yes, FIVE sisters. I love research that supports what I already know from real-life experience — sisters are important to mental health. Having a sister protects teens against feelings of depression, loneliness, self-consciousness, fear, and being unloved according to Laura Padilla-Walker, head researcher in a recent BYU study.

The positive impact of sisters extends beyond adolescence into adulthood. British researchers Liz Wright and Tony Cassidy found that people who grew up with at least one sister were happier more motivated, had more friends, and were more resilient during difficult times, especially during parental divorce.

Here are some tips for helping your children, sisters AND brothers, develop close, positive relationships with each other during childhood and adolescence so they will continue to support emotional health as adults.

Tips to Help Your Kids Help Each Other

1) Show Affection

Encourage your family to express physical affection, to notice and express positive traits, to increase emotional sensitivity to siblings, and to celebrate other sibling’s successes. Affection is an important aspect that contributes to the positive mental health outcomes among siblings, According to Padilla-Walker, “An absence of affection seems to be a bigger problem than high levels of conflict.”

A-list star Gwenyth Paltrow, and her producer brother, Jake Paltrow are a great example of affectionate siblings raised in a loving home.

2) Express

Emotion

Healthy emotional expression is a crucial component to emotional health. Wright & Cassidy found that in families whose parents divorce, sisters tended to express themselves, and encourage emotional expression in others leading to less distress.

Coach your children to express feelings to their siblings in a non-attacking way. Here’s an excellent tool to help your children communicate their emotion:

I feel (emotion word) when you (other’s specific behavior) because I think (thought) . I would like it if you would (requested behavior) .

Here’s an example: “I feel mad when you take my clothes without asking because I think you don’t respect my privacy. I would like it if you would ask me before you borrow my clothes.”

When single mother Jennifer Child’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer her sisters were her strength.
“I have 2 sisters whose lives CHANGED when my daughter was diagnosed. I was a young single mom, my sisters PULLED me through~ I COULD NOT have made it through without my family. We pulled together and somehow made it through this HORRIFIC time in our life. My sisters are my best friends. I now have 2 daughters, 6 and 7 they are best friends. They do fight like NO OTHER, but love each other as I have seen with my sisters.”

3) Show Kindness

Coach your children to treat each other with respect, thoughtfulness, and kindness. Having a loving sibling of any gender seems to promote kindness and empathy toward others, according to Padilla-Walker. Interestingly, the relationship between positive sibling relationships and good deeds was twice as strong as the relationship between parenting and a child’s good deeds.

Mother of eight children, Andrya Lewis, promotes kindness among her children “by having sleepovers on Friday nights with movies and treats and sleeping bags, by letting siblings tell good news and surprises and

distribute treats to the other siblings, and by verbally interpreting and translating that acts of kindness or service (like sharing a toy, or finding a lost shoe) mean their sibling loves them.”

4) Communicate Often

Tannen’s research found that women talk with sisters more often, at greater length, and about more personal topics than they do with brothers. She concludes that the frequency of contact with sisters, not necessarily the content of the communication, is most important component contributing to the positive impact of having a sister.

Annie Frazier says she checks in with her older sister Jennie Gochnour by text or phone every other day. “It’s not always a big conversation; often it’s just a check in. We share everything and it’s not judged. We have gotten each other through everything – deaths, marriages, and divorce. She’s the only reason I’m not in intensive therapy! I particularly remember one day when we were running together in the early morning. I was going through infertility treatments and hoping to get pregnant – despite the reality of the months of darkness that I knew were around the corner with my postpartum depression. I don’t remember what she said, but I remember what I felt. In her eyes, I could not have been any more wonderful – even though in my eyes, all I saw was failure, sadness and inadequacies. She was my crutch and has carried me along many dark roads that have led to beautiful moments of celebration. She has always been by my side.”

5) Minimize conflict

Set family rules of no name-calling and no physical fighting, and don’t be afraid to intervene in your children’s fights. High levels of sibling conflict is associated with increased risk aggression in other relationships, and increased delinquent behavior, but on the positive side, a little bit of conflict gives siblings a chance to practice emotional control and problem solving skills.

According to Oracne Price, mother to tennis superstar sisters, Venus and Serena Williams, though they are fiercely competitive on the court, her daughters are very close friends.

Do you have a sister? How has she impacted your mental health?

What’s the best age for girls to wear makeup?

I was invited to weigh in on the subject of daughters and makeup for a popular woman’s website SheKnows.com. Having gone through the makeup transition several years ago with my 16 year old daughter, and having dealt with parent child struggles in my therapy practice, I had a few things to say.

“Makeup often represents an adolescent girl’s eagerness and excitement to become a ‘grown up,’ and explore her attractiveness to peers, but for parents, it can bring up fear and stress relating to their child maturing and becoming interested in boys,” says Julie Hanks, a psychotherapist specializing in family relationships. “It may also represent a daughter pulling away from her parents to focus more on peers, which may feel scary for some parents.”

Read the entire SheKnows.com article

Raising an Emotionally Healthy Child: Studio 5

Raising An Emotionally Healthy Child on KSL TV’s Studio 5

Self and Relationship Expert Julie Hanks, LCSW, Owner and Director of Wasatch Family Therapy, shares how you can become your child’s “emotion coach” and help her develop emotional health. Watch the segment online!


As a parent, I find it’s often easier to focus on my children’s physical and external needs (food, shelter, clothing, grooming, education, relationships) than on their emotional needs. As a therapist I understand the crucial role that emotions play in our lives, but when I was a new mom and my own children expressed intense emotions, it was challenging to help them work through it. I tried hard not to shame or to dismiss their emotions, but I also didn’t want their intense emotion to rule my life…or theirs. When I came across the work of Dr. John Gottman and his book Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child several years ago I remember thinking, “This fits with what I intuitively knew about parenting and it describes the parent I want to be!” It provided a framework to help me more effectively help my children understand and express emotions in healthy and productive ways.

 

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

According to Dr. John Gottman’s research emotionally healthy, emotionally intelligent children are better able to regulate their emotions, calm their heart rate faster after being emotionally upset, had fewer infections, are better at focusing attention, have healthier peer relationships, and perform better academically. The best way to help you children achieve emotional health is to adopt an “emotion coaching” parenting style.

Dr. Gottman’s 5 Steps to Emotion Coaching:

1. Be aware of your child’s emotions

2. View emotional expression as opportunity for teaching and intimacy

3. Listen, empathize, and validate your child’s feelings

4. Label emotions in words your child understands

5. Help your child come up with solution or way to manage emotions

Recommended Parenting Books:

Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman, PhD & Joan Declaire

Parenting From The Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell
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Self & Relationship Expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC specializes in women’s mental health therapy, marriage counseling and family therapy. Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com to learn more about counseling services, workshops, & classes. Visit HERE for more relationship advice.

Join the discussion by posting comments below (your email will be kept private). I’d love to know your favorite parenting books. What do you do to raise emotionally healthy kids?

Quoted in AOLHealth today on Teens, weight, & depression

A recent study a Penn State suggests that teen girls who think they are overweight but are actually at a healthy weight are more at risk for depression than their overweight peers. I was invited to comment as an “expert” on the topic in an AOLHealth.com article and give suggestions on how parents can help their teens develop healthy body image.

Here’s a link to the article…

Weight & Depression in Teen Girls: Misperception of Weight Leads to Depression

Quoted in MSN.com Article “Recess Rascals”

Quoted by MSN.com “Recess Rascals”

Has your child been picked on? Inevitably, every child goes through being left out or being teased during recess at some point in their school experience. Read this MSN.com Mom’s Homeroom article on “Recess Rascals” for tips on:

How to know when it’s bullying

When bad behavior isn’t so bad

How to know when it’s bullying & what to do (*I’m quoted in this section)

Read “Recess Rascals” HERE

Quoted in E! Online about spoiled kids

I responded to a reported request yesterday for an “expert” to comment on spoiled kids. When I got the questions it was about Suri Cruise’s being seen, at age 4 using an iPad and my comments ended up on E! Online article “She Has an iPad – So is Suri Cruise Spoiled?” Kinda fun.

Read Article HERE

How do you define a “spoiled” kid??? Post your comments below…(email will not be made public)