Welcome: This blog will cover parenting tips to support family therapy at Turtle Dove Counseling and Hood River DBT.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Childhood Weight Concerns & Strategies

Choosemyplate.gov is offering screen time that makes a difference!

"Every kid can have a MyPlate adventure! Make your way through all the food groups with these fun games."
- See more at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/games#sthash.Bd5RLFYn.dpuf

Blast Off is a totally great game to help kids see what they are choosing.


PRINTABLES about nutrition and portions for children

Excerpt from http://patient.info/health/obesity-and-overweight-in-children

"What is the treatment for a child who is overweight or obese?
The main way to treat a child who is overweight or obese is to look at changes that can be made to their lifestyle. Changes that involve the whole family are best. Other family members who are overweight may also benefit at the same time. Remember that as a parent or carer, you act as an important role model for your child and you can help them to stay healthy.
The two main lifestyle changes that are advised are for your child to eat more healthily and do plenty of physical activity. Small, gradual changes may be best. Your child will then be more likely to stick to these changes in the long term.
As a parent or carer, you should try to be involved as much as possible in helping your child make these changes. However, some older teenagers may prefer to take responsibility for themselves. Think about how your child's progress is going to be monitored. Discuss this with their healthcare professional. At every opportunity, give praise and encourage your child in what they are doing.
See separate leaflet called Weight Reduction - How to Lose Weight for more details.

Eating more healthily

Overweight children should be encouraged to eat more healthily and to reduce the total number of calories that they eat. In most cases, as a parent, you will need to take responsibility for making changes to your child's diet, especially if your child is under the age of 12. However, it is important to involve the child as much as possible and to listen to their ideas and preferences when deciding what changes to make to the food that they eat.
Your healthcare professional may ask you to keep a diary of the food that your child eats. They may then have specific recommendations for changes to make. Sometimes a referral to a dietician may be suggested.
Some suggestions that may be helpful include:
  • Aim for a balanced and varied diet for the whole family.
  • Encourage your child to eat meals at regular times and to watch how often they are eating. They should avoid snacking as much as possible.
  • Try to eat meals in a sociable atmosphere as a family, without distractions. For example, do not eat in front of the television.
  • If snacks are eaten, they should be healthy snacks (for example, fruit) instead of sweets, chocolates, crisps, nuts, biscuits and cakes.
  • Low-calorie drinks are better than sugary drinks (water is best).
  • Snacks or food should not be used as a reward.
  • Encourage your child to watch the portion sizes of the food that they are eating.
  • Make up a third of most of your child's meals with starch-based foods (such as cereals, bread, potatoes, rice, pasta). Wholegrain starch-based foods should be eaten when possible.
  • Make sure that your child eats plenty of foods high in fibre. Foods rich in fibre include wholegrain bread, brown rice and pasta, oats, peas, lentils, grain, beans, fruit, vegetables and seeds. Amongst other things, foods high in fibre will help to fill your child up.
  • Aim for at least five portions, or ideally 7-9 portions, of a variety of fruit and vegetables per day for your child.
  • Children need some fat in their diet but aim to grill, boil or bake rather than fry foods.

Doing plenty of physical activity

It is recommended that all children should do at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Some suggest that children who are overweight or obese should even do more than this. This 60 minutes does not have to be done all at once and can be broken up into 10- or 15-minute blocks. Try to find activities that your child enjoys, rather than something they don't want to do. This way they are more likely to continue with it. Also, you should encourage your child to become generally less inactive (sedentary). The amount of time that they spend doing sedentary activities, such as watching television, using a computer, or playing video games, should be less than two hours each day.
As parents and carers, there are some ways that you can encourage your child to become more physically active. For example:
  • Encourage active play for your child, including games that involve moving around a lot, such as skipping, dancing, running or ball games.
  • Encourage your child to spend less time sitting doing sedentary activities.
  • Build physical activity into your child's life in general. Try to be more active as a family. For example, walking or cycling to school and the shops, going swimming or to the park together. Again, remember that as a parent or carer, you act as a role model.
  • Help children to take part regularly in structured physical activities that they enjoy. This may include dancing, football or other sports or swimming."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tantrums and Meltdowns

To some degree, tantrums and meltdowns are a normal part of early childhood.  When they become more frequent, intense and distressing, parents need help helping their young one.

There are many reasons for children to have tantrums, but mainly it's difficulty regulating their emotions.  There may be other underlying factors that make things worse, such as anxiety, depression, irritability, ADHD, learning problems, autism spectrum and sensory processing issues.

Certainly young children have skills they are developing, which you can focus on supporting.  These may include frustration tolerance, impulse control, problem solving, delaying gratification, negotiation, communication, understanding expectations, accepting direction and limits, and self-soothing,

From the perspective of developing skills, recommendations have moved from punishing tantrums to helping children soothe to prevent or recover from them. So rather than using conventional time outs, consider the idea of a "time in" using a "comfort corner."

Read more: http://joanneaz_2.tripod.com/positivedisciplineresourcecenter/id26.html


Dr. Greenspan writes about several challenging temperaments in his book,The Challenging Child: Understanding, Raising, and Enjoying the Five "Difficult" Types of Children.  He explains what it feels like to be a defiant child, or a child with ADHD, and how parents typically respond in ways that don't work, and the counterintuitive strategies to try instead (summarized here).

One temperament he includes is the highly sensitive child.  This topic has it's own book by the expert on being Highly Sensitive, Elaine Aaron, calledThe Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them.


Dr. Ross Greene presents a model of parenting to help children with low frustration tolerance and difficulty shifting agendas, in The Explosive Child. Children do well if they can. They don’t choose to be explosive and non-compliant. Rather they have a delay in developing skills critical to being flexible and tolerating frustration or difficulty applying these skills. 

Explosive Child handouts summarizing book: The Explosive Child, by Dr. Greene.
  Videos on Collaborative Problem Solving.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Behavior Programs

There are times when you may want to consider using a specific behavior program, based upon privileges/rewards and consequences.  I will be listing three examples below.

1) Barkley's Your Defiant Child

2) FAMILY RULES program

3) Home Rules Contracts
There are also factors that may make behavior programs either less effective or appropriate as well.  These would include when there are trauma issues, emotional intensity, developmental or learning disorders, ADHD or impulsivity problems.  There are systems, like Collaborative Problem Solving, that suggest that motivation may not always be the answer, and that your child may need support in skill development.   Please see my post on Parenting Approaches.

1) Barkley's Your Defiant Child

Dr. Russell Barkley is the author of Taking Charge of ADHD, Your Defiant Child and Your Defiant Teen

"Your Defiant Child" is an 8 step program.
Step 1: Pay Attention!
Step 2: Start Earning Peace and Cooperation with Praise
Step 3: When Praise Is Not Enough, Offer Rewards
Step 4: Use Mild Discipline--Time-Out and More
Step 5: Use Time-Out with Other Misbehavior
Step 6: Think Aloud and Think Ahead--What to Do in Public
Step 7: Help the Teacher Help Your Child
Step 8: Moving toward a Brighter Future

2) FAMILY RULES program

"Dr. Johnson realized that parents needed to be taught how to used a “Behavior Modification” program in their home and that the philosophy of “King Arthur’s Round Table” was setting families up to fail when the child returned home from treatment. Therefore, in 1984, Dr. Johnson took approximately 200 volunteer families over a two-year period of time and began putting together a “Behavior Modification” program that would work effectively in the home. They tried this, it worked, and they kept it. They tried that, it didn’t work, and they got rid of it. After working with 200 volunteer families over a two-year period of time “trying this” and “trying that”, Dr. Johnson finally came up with an effective “one size fits all” parenting program that helps moms and dads to do in their homes what the treatment facilities were doing to stabilize the attitudes and behaviors of their “out of control” children. The 200 volunteer families represented a diversity of Ethnicity, Religion, Politics, Socioeconomic differences, and Regional Backgrounds."


                                                        Read Chapter One

3) Home Rules Contracts
Here are some links to a program for setting up rules and consequences for your teens:

What is the Purpose of a Home Rules Contract?
Who is Included in a Home Rules Contract?
Who Should Write the Home Rules Contract?
What are Appropriate Consequences?
Steps to Creating a Home Rules Contract

Examples of Items that might be Included in a Home Rules Contract

Sample Contract
Print a Blank Home Rules Contract
Order FREE Literature on Parenting Difficult Teens


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sibling Rivalry

Follow Jane Rekas's board sibling rivalry on Pinterest.

Please also see my general post on Parenting Approaches.

Center for Effective Parenting handout on Sibling Rivalry.

The Lost Children: When Behavior Problems Traumatize Siblings
by James Lehman, MSW

When one child has a consistent behavior problem with chaotic outbursts, the other children in the home suffer.

"It’s also important to have a "safety plan." Just as families are encouraged to have a plan of action if there’s a fire (where to meet, how to get out, what to do), I have always encouraged families to sit down and talk about how they can help the acting out child."

Sibling Rivalry / Kids Don't Get Along

This site has a good list of to dos:

  • Regardless of the reasons for sibling rivalry, the fighting can cause stress and unhappiness for everyone in the family. Parents may be frustrated not knowing how to react when siblings fight. Some general guidelines for parents while siblings are fighting include:
  • If possible, don't get involved in the fight and let children resolve their own conflicts unless someone is getting hurt.
  • If you must intervene in the fight, separate the children until they are both calm enough to talk about what happened.
  • Don't yell at the siblings who are fighting, since this may only escalate the aggression.
  • Don't assign blame or try to figure out who started it - both siblings were fighting so both are responsible for the conflict.
  • Don't appear to favor or protect one child.
  • Don't assume that the younger child is always the victim. Younger children are just as capable of older ones at starting fights, and older siblings still may not have the maturity to handle the situation well.
  • Though parents cannot prevent all sibling rivalry, there are things they can do to reduce the frequency and severity of fights, depending on the causes. Some of these things include:
  • Talk to each child alone every day, and tell them that you love them. Even spending ten minutes with a child can reassure them that you care about them and give you a chance to find out what's going on in their lives.
  • Spend positive time together as a family. Try to eat one meal together every day without the TV, and find time to do fun family activities like playing games or going for walks. This will strengthen family relationships and make kids more willing to work out their problems. Be sure, however, that the activities address the interests of all the children so they don't feel like they are being forced to participate in one child's activities.
  • Appreciate each child as an individual, and don't compare children to their siblings.
  • Hold family meetings to set rules, like no hitting or name-calling, and explain what the consequences will be for any child who breaks these rules, regardless of who starts a conflict. Remind children that they are all part of the family and that you love each of them.
  • Help children to understand that sometimes being fair does not mean being equal. A teenager may have more freedom, but also may have more responsibilities. A child with special needs may get more attention because he or she needs the extra help.
  • Let children and teens have some time and space to themselves, and let them have some special possessions they don't have to share.
  • If children are fighting over something like a computer game or the TV, create a schedule so each gets equal time using it. Let them know if the fighting continues that whatever they are fighting over will be taken away. Giving each child their own TV or computer may not be a good solution because it doesn't teach compromise and may lead to family members being isolated in their rooms without supervision or family interaction.
  • Set a good example. When you are angry, don't yell, throw things, or call others names. If you need help with anger management, don't hesitate to get help.

Here is a link on Child Centered Special Time for younger children.
Child Centered Special Time 
For older children, schedule a date night or day:
Schedule a Date Night with your kids

Here's another list:

20 Tips to Stop Quibbling Siblings
One is the importance of family meetings.
Here is another link to family meetings handout.
Family Meeting

Good Kid and Bad Kid

Sometimes sibling rivalry comes out of a tendency for kids to polarize roles:

Sibling Rivalry: Good Kid vs. Bad Kid
by Carole Banks, MSW, Parental Support Line Advisor

1. Don’t choose between your children.
2. Don’t place your child in the role of “good kid” or “bad kid.”
3. Brush off the teasing or else "Stop the Show."
4. Develop a culture of accountability in your family.
5. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the child who behaves well.
6. As parents, Role Model how to resolve problems and disagreements in respectful and non-aggressive ways.
7. Treat each child as an individual.

Adopt a family culture of 
Non-Violent Communication:

Nonviolent Communication For Children & Youth
By Inbal Kashtan
   NVC invites practitioners to focus attention on four components:

  1. Observation: the facts (what we are seeing, hearing, or touching) as distinct from our evaluation of meaning and significance. NVC discourages static generalizations. It is said that "When we combine observation with evaluation others are apt to hear criticism and resist what we are saying." Instead, a focus on observations specific to time and context is recommended. 
  2. Feelings: emotions or sensations, free of thought and story. These are to be distinguished from thoughts (e.g., "I feel I didn't get a fair deal") and from words colloquially used as feelings but which convey what we think we are (e.g., "inadequate"), how we think others are evaluating us (e.g., "unimportant"), or what we think others are doing to us (e.g., "misunderstood", "ignored"). Feelings are said to reflect whether we are experiencing our needs as met or unmet. 
  3. Needs: universal human needs, as distinct from particular strategies for meeting needs. It is posited that "Everything we do is in service of our needs."
  4. Request: request for a specific action, free of demand. Requests are distinguished from demands in that one is open to hearing a response of "no" without this triggering an attempt to force the matter. 

Birth Order

Another significant contributor to sibling rivalry is birth order.

Birth Order Dynamics and Response to Stress

  • First Born, Best Stressed?
  • In the Middle
  • The experience of the Youngest
  • Twins

What are the effects of the middle child syndrome?

Finally, siblings have personality differences.
Read more.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Your Child's Temperament

See also: Humor Me :) Temperamental Coaching for Children & Parents

source: http://www.beachpsych.com/pages/cc119.html

"Young children are all too often brought to family therapists or pediatricians because their parents are concerned about their unusual behavior. Difficulty toilet training, biting other children, intense or long lasting tantrums, and other concerns about behavior are not necessarily signs of a serious disorder.

Alexander Thomas and Stella Chess wrote a book in 1996 that identifies nine distinct dimensions reflecting differences in temperament that influence how children respond to the world around them. Understanding these may better help you to understand your child and figure out strategies for coping better with your child's temperament.

  • ACTIVITY measures the amount of physical energy a child puts into behavior and daily activities. An active infant moves around a lot, even when sleeping. These children prefer more active kinds of play over quiet activities such as reading. Many resist sleeping and fall asleep only when they're exhausted. Parents need to notice what works when they are trying to calm an active child at bedtime.
  • INTENSITY refers to the level of energy a child puts into self-expression - the amount of volume and drama in the child's life. Intense children express themselves with great vigor and gusto. Older kids speak in extremes; today was THE BEST or THE WORST day ever. When they are in a good mood they can be delightfully enthusiastic about something. When in a bad mood a negative reaction from a parent can unleash a major tantrum, abusive back-talk, threats of violence, or threats of running away. Parents of intense children need to learn how to not escalate with them. You should speak in a matter-of-fact tone of voice with them. After an eruption is over, try to help them learn more appropriate ways of expressing themselves that will be less offensive to others around them.
  • SENSITIVITY is a measure of a child's sensory threshold. A child low in sensitivity is better equipped to handle a stimulating situation, such as crowds or shopping. A child high in sensitivity has a low tolerance for exciting or stimulating situations, and will be prone to meltdowns. They over-react to physical stimuli such as sights, sounds, taste, smell, and touch. Sensible accommodations to help sensitive children can make coping easier for the child. (ex: learning when to turn down the volume)
  • REGULARITY measures how predictable or unpredictable a child's biological functions are, such as hunger, fatigue, or bowel movements. Irregular children will rarely do anything with any predictability. Parents should resist nagging a child about eating with everyone else. Instead, try making healthy snacks and food available for when they ask for it. Children who are more irregular may handle chaos and spontaneity better than children who are very regular and do better in predictable and structured environments.
  • PERSISTENCE/FRUSTRATION TOLERANCE measures a child's ability to complete a task in the face of obstacles. Children with low frustration tolerance tend to give up easily when something doesn't go easily. Infants with poor frustration tolerance do not like to be left alone. Children who are low in frustration tolerance can be helped to increase their persistence by gradually stretching out the adult response time to their children's demands for help. With older kids, try breaking tasks down into smaller and easier pieces. Encourage them to do something until they can complete it. Children with high frustration tolerance can persist in the face of difficulties and are more comfortable entertaining themselves. They sometimes find it difficult to walk away from something unfinished. You can help by giving them advance warnings. Ex: dinner is in five minutes, or, you can finish right after your bath.
  • DISTRACTIBILITY measures a child's tendency to be diverted by noise, interruptions, and other things going on around them. Highly distractible children are acutely aware of everything that's going on around them. Simply explaining to a child, "You're getting distracted" can help them become more aware and regain their focus. Children low in distractibility focus well, even in challenging environments, such as school.
  • APPROACH/WITHDRAWAL measures an infant's initial reaction to a new food, person, or situation. Approaching infants tend to have a positive first reaction. These children are often also very active and may go barreling into new situations, sometimes frightening other kids nearby. Helping them to slow down a little is very useful. Withdrawing children have a negative reaction to the first time they experience something. Sometimes they quickly warm to a situation so it's important not to rush them into things, but let them set the pace at which they assimilate into what is going on.
  • ADAPTABILITY measures a child's adjustment to changes and transitions.Highly adaptable children can be taken anywhere, anytime. They can sleep anywhere. As they get older, they are easy going. Children low in adaptability react negatively to changes and need a lot of time before settling into situations. Unexpected situations can arouse strong reactions. Children low in adaptability resist change, and often insist that every detail of daily routines be followed. They frequently are clingy. You can help them feel more in control by giving them simple choices to make. Ex: Would you prefer to brush teeth before or after putting on PJ's?
  • MOOD  is a measure of a child's disposition. Some kids cry a lot. Others smile a lot and are always content. Some tend toward optimistic, others pessimistic. Children who are more serious may have an analytical way of looking at things. If they tend toward pessimism or negativity, you can use their analytical perspective to your advantage. Speaking in a measured tone, help them understand what is upsetting them; help them broaden their perspective. Help them see things in new, more adaptive, ways.

Understanding your child's temperament will go a long way toward helping them fit into a society that is quick to judge harshly behaviors and emotions that are "different". To the extent that a parent can learn to accept a child for who they are, it greatly helps that child to learn to feel good about being themselves."

The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron, 2002
Understanding Your Child's Temperament by William Carey,MD, 1997
Know Your Child by Stella Chess,MD & Alexander Thomas,MD, 1997
The Explosive Child by Ross Greene, 2001
The Difficult Child by Stanley Turecki,MD, 2000

The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms ThemUnderstanding the Highly Sensitive Child: Seeing an Overwhelming World through Their EyesUnderstanding Your Child's Temperament
The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Chi...
by Elaine Aron
Understanding the Highly Sensitive Child: S...
by Jamie Williamson
Understanding Your Child's Temperament
by William B. Carey MD
Understanding Your Child's TemperamentKnow your child: An authoritative guide for today's parentsThe Difficult Child: Expanded and Revised Edition
Understanding Your Child's Temperament
by Beverly LaHaye
Know your child: An authoritative guide for...
by Stella Chess
The Difficult Child: Expanded and Revised E...
by Stanley Turecki

Time-In: When Time-Out Doesn't WorkThe Challenging Child: Understanding, Raising, and Enjoying the Five "Difficult" Types of ChildrenThe Explosive Child
Time-In: When Time-Out Doesn't Work
by Jean Illsley Clarke
The Challenging Child: Understanding, Raisi...
by Stanley I. Greenspan
The Explosive Child
by Ross W., PhD Greene 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


  • Do not ground your child or take away privileges impulsively or when you are emotional yourself.
  • Tips on Grounding: http://www.twu.edu/downloads/counseling/E-17_Tips_for_Disciplining_Children.pdf
  • Do not ground or remove privileges for long periods of time.  You know that you then ground yourself, but you also discourage the child.  You need to use just enough time to get their attention but then quickly focus on getting them motivated to be successful and compliant again.
  • Make a list of predictable consequences that "fit the crime" in advance of behavior problems.
  • Also make a list of privileges and the expectations that earn them.

  • Take
  • Away
  • Everything for
  • Short
  • Period
  • of
  • Time

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Humor Me :) Temperamental Coaching

Major Communication Difference between Preferences

If you're interested in learning more, fill out the form below:

Humor Me :) Temperamental Coaching Interest Form

Different Children, Different Needs: Understanding the Unique Personality of Your ChildNurture by Nature: Understand Your Child's Personality Type - And Become a Better ParentChildren Are from Heaven: Positive Parenting Skills for Raising Cooperative, Confident, and Compassionate Children
Different Children, Different Needs: Unders...
by Charles F. Boyd
Dr. Rohm's application of the DISC 4 Type model to parenting.
Nurture by Nature: Understand Your Child's ...
by Barbara Barron-Tieger
Parenting by MBTI personality type. Very good book.
Children Are from Heaven: Positive Parentin...
by John Gray
From Venus and Mars author, John Gray, PhD.
Personality Insights for Moms (Personality Insights for ... Series)MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting StrengthsPersonality Plus for Parents: Understanding What Makes Your Child Tick
Personality Insights for Moms (Personality ...
by Susan Crook
MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Dis...
by Janet Penley
Personality Plus for Parents: Understanding...
by Florence Littauer
The mom-style quiz

Pick which side you better relate to on each of these four main personality dichotomies:
Extroversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)
Extroverts derive their energy by turning outward to other people, going to parties, working with others, and meeting new people. They learn by doing and tend to think out loud. They prefer being a part of the action.
Introverts are energized by turning inward to the world of ideas and reflection. They like to think things through and emphasize reflection rather than action. It's not that Introverts don't like or need other people; they do. But many relate best with friends and coworkers one-on-one.
Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)
Sensing types trust, primarily, the kind of information they get from their five senses  -- what they can see, feel, taste, hear, and smell. They focus on the facts, and pay more attention to "what is" rather than "what could be."
Intuitive types consider their five senses only as a jumping-off point, instead placing their trust in information that comes from hunches and reading between the lines for hidden meanings and patterns. They focus on the future, anticipating "what could be" rather than "what is."
Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
Thinking types base their decisions on logic and objective analysis, trusting their head to make a good choice. Words like logic, objectivity, competence, justice, and fairness resonate with Thinking types.
Feeling types base their decisions on more personal and subjective criteria, giving primary consideration to the impact their decisions have on people, including themselves. They tend to trust their heart.
Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)
Judging types like an orderly lifestyle with schedules and structure. They like to follow organized plans and check things off their to-do list.
Perceiving types prefer to go with the flow and keep their options open. They may start the day with a to-do list, but it's more of a backup plan in case nothing else comes up.

Read more: http://humormecoaching.blogspot.com/p/families.html