You might have heard of the task where a candy bar is placed in front of a child to see if he or she can refrain from eating it for a period of time in order to obtain a better reward later on. How do children develop the skills needed to regulate themselves so that they can delay their satisfaction? The ability to regulate emotions is influenced by biological processes (e.g., temperament) as well as social learning. Regulating emotions is a process in which children monitor, evaluate, and change their emotional experience in order to meet their goals. If a child has a goal of eating a candy bar immediately, and believes that delaying eating it will cause pain, he or she may eat the candy bar in order to avoid the anticipated feeling of being upset. Alternatively, if the child believes that the anticipated reward might cause greater joy, then he or she may implement strategies to control an immediate response. [Read more…]
Welcome to Our Blog!
This blog is written by the clinicians at Jonah Green and Associates, a mental health practice based in Kensington, MD that provides quality services for children, teens, families, and adults. It is intended as a resource for families who are seeking to expand their knowledge about mental health and mental health services, and also as a resource for families who are seeking quality mental health services, especially in the mid-Atlantic region. Please feel free to post questions and comments on any of the entries as well as on any topics or articles from our companion web site www.childandfamilymentalhealth.com.
In her poem “To a Daughter Leaving Home,” Linda Pastan describes her experience of teaching her eight year old daughter how to ride a bike. As her daughter rides away up the street, the mother runs behind to catch up, anxious she might hear a crash. Her daughter laughs and “pumps for her life,” with her hair like a “handkerchief waving goodbye.”
This scene illustrates many of the feelings that parents have as they see their children growing up. On the one hand parents want to encourage independence, and work to teach children the skills they need to be self-sufficient. On the other hand, children’s independence can scare parents: will they be alright on their own? The child’s journey can also leave the parent feeling abandoned. As parents cheer their children on, they also feel the loss of their company.
Resilience refers to the ability to recover from adversity and to function successfully despite difficult situations, stress, or trauma. As parents, we sometimes wish that our children will never have to deal with anything bad or hard, but we also hope that our children will be resilient if they need to be.
So how do we foster resilience in children? Building resilience is not unlike building muscles. Though some people are naturally more muscular than others, we all start out with level of strength. And everyone can bolster their resilience muscles through practice and training. Here are a few things parents can do to foster resilience in their children: [Read more…]
Activities such as games and outings can help families cohere and build feelings of togetherness. Planned, regular family meetings, or “family councils”, can yield particular benefits. Family councils can improve communication, deepen relationships, improve decision-making, and develop a greater sense of belonging for all. Carefully-conducted meetings can also help children learn to voice opinions, problem-solve, and make decisions cooperatively, respectfully, and effectively.
While it is important that families use methods for conducting their meetings that work best for them, the following guidelines may be useful to get started: [Read more…]