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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Structuring ADHD

I know I have posted about ADHD in the past, but I think so many children are diagnosed with it and it is talked about so much, that it is important to talk about.

I gave a brief description of ADHD last year on my blog, but today I want to focus on if your child has been diagnosed with ADHD or has ADHD-like symptoms. If you child has been diagnosed with ADHD, you may be thinking, "Okay, what now?" Of course, I am only going to focus on one aspect of that "What now?" question, but it can be a change that is somewhat simple to help an ADHD child become less frustrated.

First, let me give a bit of a background. ADHD children often have trouble paying attention to details and paying attention for any length of time. Also, they often have difficulty with organization and may avoid tasks that take much mental effort and attention. They also often lose things and become easily distracted. Furthermore, they are often forgetful as well.

Now, that we understand what ADHD can look like for some children, especially those diagnosed with the inattentive type, we can move on to understand what might work best for them in an everyday setting. Let's think about it from their perspective first. If I have trouble paying attention to detail, lack the ability to organize and am often losing things, especially if I am forgetful, then lacking more structure is going to make my life even more crazy, right? Now, I have become even more uncomfortable and may act out even more because I don't know how to handle all this Crazy (or at least this is how it feels)!

So again, you may ask, "What can I, as a parent, do?" Well, I am glad you asked! As a parent, you can help calm your child by creating a more structured environment for him or her. Think about your child having structure and being able to know what will happen (most of the time) throughout the day. It will allow him or her to know what to expect on a daily basis. Some tips that might help in developing a routine is have your child get up at the same time every day. If he or she gets up at the same time everyday, gets ready in the same order, has a spot for his or her shoes, backpack, etc., then this child will not feel so disorganized. If your child is younger and not in school yet, you may even schedule nap time at the same time every day. This way he or she will begin to understand having a routine nap time will help him or her feel better and they may not fight is as much. Furthermore, having a structured bedtime will allow the child to not only get adequate sleep, but will allow that structure to know when things are going to happen, and again, not feel so disorganized and unprepared.

Another way to help your child, as I eluded to earlier, is to have a place for everything (shoes & backpack). If everything has its place, then the child has some organization and cannot lose things as easily. It may cut down on some of those horrific temper tantrums too because the child can find what he or she needs and is not so frustrated by having to look for it. Also, make sure there are designated areas for you child to do certain tasks. The bed is to sleep in, not to do homework. Homework is done at the dinner table. Play is done in the living room or your bedroom. Whatever works best for you, but designate such areas, so it develops some structure for your child and everything he or she needs to complete each task is at hand wherever the task is to be done. Change is often hard for ADHD children, but changing for good with some structure may help more than your realize.

As always, hope this helps and would love to have some feedback from you. If you have an ADHD child or know an ADHD child, what has worked best for you or their family?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Food Reward

Sorry I have been MIA lately, but I am back after reading a blog, which brought the question to mind, "Should we reward our children with food?" I started looking around and here are some thoughts I came up with. A bit of fair warning: I became more passionate about this topic as I began to write it. My agenda here is not to offend anyone, but to bring up real issues related to this topic.

First of all, rewarding children with food can happen in many different ways. One way is saying, "If you finish your plate, you can have desert." Another way children are rewarded with food is the all too often party-birthday party, Valentine's party, Halloween party, etc., especially when they are happening once a month or more at school. Children have also been rewarded for good behavior with food in instances such as, "If you are good while we are at the grocery store, you can get a candy bar." Other children can be rewarded with eating out for dinner on Friday night because they have finished their chores for the week. Many children are rewarded with eating out or treats because they made good grades on their report card. There are many ways we reward children with food, even some so simple we don't even realize that's what we are doing.

"So what?" you might say?

First, let's start with nutrition. That's an easy one. Obviously feeding your child carrots and celery aren't going to do the trick! Usually, we are feeding our children candy and ice cream for rewards, right? And I'm sure we've all heard of the obesity epidemic among youth lately. Well, these behaviors are not helping improve those statistics any. Sugary foods filled with empty calories can lead to weight gain, and depending on how much the child is being rewarded with food, it could be rapid weight gain. Also, the risk for cavities increases when we feed our children sugary foods. (You can look into this yourself. The biology lesson is beyond the scope of this discussion.) These are only 2 ways that rewarding children with food affect nutrition, but there are many more.

Next, let's talk about poor eating habits. When we give children food as a reward, we are not giving them food because they are hungry. We have given them food just because they have done something good. Therefore, we have given them permission to eat, even though they are not hungry. Usually this also sends the message that the treat we have just given them is better or more important than the lunch or dinner they will be eating next because they will no longer need as much nutritional food since they have just eaten empty calories with their treat. Therefore, they have not finished their lunch or dinner and have not had the proper nutrition for the day.

Furthermore, we may be teaching our children emotional eating habits. If the child feels good because they have been rewarded, but the reward is linked to a food, then the child will link feeling good to eating the food. Therefore, they may begin to avoid negative feelings by eating in order to feel better. Children may also begin to eat when they are bored because they do not like this feeling or they do not know how to cope with being bored, but instead they have learned to eat in order to not feel bored or uncomofortable. And back to the poor eating habits, they may not have had the opportunity to learn what if feels like to be hungry to know when to eat. Although emotional eating may feel good to the person at the time, it usually ends in feelings of guilt, which may lead to more destructive behaviors.

Lastly, and maybe more importantly for some of you, you are setting yourself up for failure. Think about it: If you are rewarding a child with ice cream after he eats all his peas, is that really going to help you to get him to eat his peas the next time? No! He's still going to want ice cream the next time he eats his peas! Not to mention you are sending him mixed messages. You are saying, "Eat these healthy peas, then I will give you a sugary treat." What? I'm even confused!

So what can you do instead?

One simple thing you can do is praise your child. Children love to hear us dote on them! Verbal praise goes a long way. Children love to feel accomplished, loved, and feel like they are doing things right. Food just gets in the way of that. If you want to take it the other direction and take a healthy stance, tell them, "Great job! Let's go to the park and play." Other ways you can reward your child is allowing them to have their friends come over to play, involve your child in planning an outing they would enjoy, let them pick out a bedtime story, or play a board game with them. Be creative in your efforts to find other rewards for children, instead of food.

I realize it's hard in the moment not to offer that treat because it is so easy, but if you can think of what it might actually be doing to your child nutrtionally and emotionally, you might think again before those words come out of your mouth.

I would love to hear your comments on this topic. Do you agree or disagree? What other methods do you use to reward your children?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Reflections from Haiti

I know it has been a while, and I know you are tired of me talking about Haiti. Hopefully this will be the last Haiti post for a while. But I can't stop thinking about my trip to Haiti, which is why I haven't posted anything different on here in a while. It has been about 2 1/2 months since I went to Haiti, but my heart is still there. I love the people and the beauty of the country. Beauty you say? Yes, absolute beauty. It is hard to even imagine or describe without seeing it, but the mountains there are beautiful. Hence Haiti's name, meaning Land of Mountains. I know it is hard to believe I fell in love with such a place that is so poverty stricken, but maybe that's what makes it so great! They don't worry about what they will wear (except to church on Sundays) or getting home to watch tonight's best TV show. It's a land of community and helping one another, and I believe this is what we are all longing and searching for. We are just too caught up in the hustle and bustle to know exactly what it is we are looking for. We try to fill it with so many other things that just continue to leave us empty.

Anyway, I just wanted to share what was on my heart. Now let me ask you, where is your heart and your passion? Mine comes from God, and he has given me a heart for Haiti. Have you done the things you are passionate about? Have you let yourself be still enough to figure out what your passion is? Have you put your priorities in order?

Please feel free to share your comments.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Clinical Perspective

I wanted to share some thoughts and things I learned when we went to the Clinic in Haiti. Me and another girl went to the clinic on Wed. and thought we would be doing counseling. Since I am a counselor, I thought I would be talking to people about how they are feeling about life events. Well, we did do counseling, but not that kind. We did medical-type counseling. We talked about the importance of taking medication and preventative measures they could take to help keep them healthy. Although it was not what we originally thought we would be doing, it was still helpful for the people.

Something I have been thinking about is although many Americans realize they are supposed to take their prescribed medications, there are also many that don't understand the importance of continuing to take it even when they are feeling better. I know several people that stop taking their prescriptions without talking to their doctors as well. This abrupt discontinuation of medicine can cause serious side effects if not careful. It is important to continue taking medication until you and your doctor have come up with a different regimen for you to follow.

It is also important to stress preventative measures. In Haiti we talked about ways to prevent getting Malaria and Typhoid, such as covering your water with nets to keep mosquitoes from getting into it. So this reminds me, we need to stress preventative measures here in the United States as well. We may not have to worry about Typhoid or Malaria, but there are other things we can prevent. For example, we can prevent anxiety by planning ahead, managing time effectively, keeping a journal to reduce stress and avoiding alcohol and drugs which may add to one's problems, only to name a few. Prevention before a problem exists is better than trying to cure a problem after is has already occurred.

Something else I heard while in Haiti is that counseling is not something they are familiar with. Some say it's because they have too many other basic needs to worry about rather than the tradegy that has occurred in their lives with the earthquake or other circumstances. Others say it's because they have not been introduced to the concept of talking through their issues. I am not sure which it is, but I am curious about your opinion.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

God is Great All the Time

Yes, I have more ramblings from my recent trip to Haiti. I am sorry that I continue to post about Haiti, but I want those who want to know about my trip to have the details they want. So for the next few weeks, if you don't want to know about my trip, you don't have to read my blog!

Anywho, after we went to the Children's Home on Monday, as I talked about in my last post, then I went to teach English in a tent camp in Karade. It was amazing to see how eager they were to learn English. In America, we cringe every time we step into a required foreign language class, but these Haitians were excited to be able to communicate with others in a different way. I was helping with the intermediate English class, so most of them could already understand and speak English for the most part. The class occurs on Mondays and Wednesdays; the first hour is set aside for teaching English and the second hour is an optional Bible Study. To my amazement at the end of class on Monday, all of the students agreed that they would rather study the Bible in English both hours on both days (all 4 hours) and learn English through learning about the Bible! So the class is going through Genesis now in order to understand about Creation. There was a question about Darwinism and Evolution, so they decided they wanted to study Genesis, so they could compare Evolution to Creation. Ah-mazing!

We were able to go back for half of the class on Wed., so I was able to hear John teaching them about Creation. John is amazing at teaching the Bible. He is so knowledgeable and inspired me to get more in the Word to know the ins and outs of the Bible in order to can teach others more effectively.

Monday night started the first of three nights of leading a Discipleship Training at the church. By the end of the 3rd night, the training seemed to be a big hit! We taught them to discover where they were on their path with Christ, to determine where their strengths and weakness lie in being a disciple, and challenged them to be proactive in being a disciple. At the end, the majority of the people at the church had come up with 3-5 names of people they wanted to begin to disciple! It was awesome!

On Tuesday, we also got to experience visiting with church members. We went out into the community and visited with new believers and church members and prayed for them. To my surprise, they did not pray for food because they were hungry or healing because they were sick, they prayed for spiritual guidance and strength! They want to share the name of Jesus to those they know! They have nothing, but they do not care because they love Jesus and know that Jesus loves them!

We were also able to meet with the Haitian  ladies in the house that day. It was hard because none of them know English, so we had a communication barrier. The ladies were precious, and I am saddened because we were supposed to meet with them again on Wed., but were unable to because of that language barrier. They do not get much attention in the house, again because of the language barrier, and my prayer is that they will find a way to be included in the discipleship efforts much like the Haitian guys in the house. The Haitian guys do speak English, so they were able to communicate and have started a discipleship program. They also decided that they were going to start another ministry to help older adults-God Supports Adults Ministry. These guys pledged to give 15% of their weekly income to help people in wheelchairs and with special needs. We are talking about a country that lives on $1 a day, pledging 15% of their income to help others! I am speechless!

God is doing amazing things in Haiti!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

With Love, From Haiti

I wanted to share more about my trip to Haiti. I will try to add a counseling twist to it today, as I talk about the Children's Home we visited on Monday.

As, I said, we visited the Children's Home, Little Hands and Feet, on Monday. As I was there, I begin to think about adoption. Many of the children there are being adopted by families in the U.S., but there were a few who were not yet being adopted. As we talked with Greg later in the week, he gave us more of an insight on the adoption process in Haiti, as he is in the process of adoption a Haitian child. As the children clung to us soon after we walked through the door, I thought to myself how loving these children are. I thought, we look so different from them, but they do not care about the color of our skin or the texture of our hair, they just want to be held and loved in return. They could not even speak to us or us speak to them in a language that both could understand, but I realized love is universal.

What a wonderful reminder those little children brought to my life. They did not care who I was or where I came from, but openly accepted and loved me, just as I did them. It reminds me of John 13:34: A new command I give to you, Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. As I reflect back on being at the Children's Home and the orphanage we visited, the friendly smiles and hugs given, it reminded me of how much more Jesus loves us!

As for the children I met and their fate, I am not sure. I know that children are resilient, and I can only hope that they can feel and learn the love of Jesus too! It makes me sad and uncomfortable to see so many children in orphanages around the world, but to know they are resilient and can still love and be loved by complete strangers warms my heart! I am thankful for this gentle reminder and the smiles that will warm my heart forever.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Inspirations from Haiti

I know it has been a while since my last post, and I apologize for that! Today's post is going to be a little different as well, and I hope you don't mind. I recently got back from a trip to Haiti and wanted to share some of the things I experienced there.

When we arrived on Saturday, I believe all of us were on sensory overload. We were excited to be in Haiti and ready to get to work, but before we could get out of the airport, we had to retrieve the 7 bags we checked. Now you may be thinking, "What's the big deal there?" Well, when you are in a country with an unemployment rate around 85%, everyone is trying to make money any way they can, so there are dozens of men trying to take your bags to your car. They want to take your bags to your car, so you will tip them and they can make some money. After fighting our way out of their airport, we hop in a van with Greg to learn that Haiti pretty much has no street laws. We are passing cars with no middle line, honking as we go by, bouncing up and down due to the rubble that still makes up the roads in Haiti. But finally and safely, we make it back to the Guest House where we will be staying. We are greeted by Zech, who will be our security man for the week. Zeck is a man a God, who will strike fear in anyone who wants to mess with him, but who is also the most caring gentle soul anyone could ever meet and get to know. We are also welcomed again by Greg and John, who give us the rundown of what we will be doing for the week. Greg is the main missionary for Chadasha, where we were staying. Chadasha is a foundation developed to serve the poor and make Jesus's name famous. Greg is one of the most amazing men I have ever met. He arrived in Haiti 2 days after the earthquake and has been plowing through Haiti ever since. He and his wife, Michelle, truly amaze me. (There will be more on John later.)

Side note: You can also check our Chadasha's blog at

On Sunday, we attended Penier Baptist Church in Haiti, where we would be working for the majority of the week. Their church service was amazing! The congregation sang at the top of their lungs to God! It inspires me! It's hard to even describe the feeling I got when hearing them sing. I couldn't understand the words, but I knew they were giving their all to God. We also learned that the church had purchased the piece of property connected to it, so they can expand their church! Praise God! Little did we know when they made the announcement, that our guys would be working with them to begin digging the foundation the very next day! Our guys were excited and honored to work alongside the Haitian men to begin the addition to the church, but of course the Haitian men worked circles around them. They only gave them 2 hours to work because they knew they would be worn out! On Wed., Bryan Whitt returned to help them dig the foundation. I know he, as well as the rest of us, are excited to see God's glory shine in Haiti through this church and the people we met throughout the week.

We also ate lunch at a hotel where the UN stays and eats. It was ridiculous-they had a pool, great food, and I'm sure great accommodations. It was strange to see this fancied up place in the middle of Haiti, fenced off from the rubble that remains on the ground just outside.

We also went to a tent camp to see a little boy, KenKen, who had just turned a year old. A tent camp is a place set up for all the misplaced Haitians, whose home were destroyed during the Quake. They are made up of tarps and wood, which were sent by many foreign aid teams. KenKen just celebrated his first birthday in December, and it was overwhelming to see him. He has HIV/AIDS, TB, and is severely malnourished. KenKen is still tiny and has not met the developmental milestones for his age, such as crawling or walking, but God has proven that he is a BIG God by giving KenKen even one birthday! Continue to pray for KenKen as he continues to get stronger and grow.

We saw some amazing things upon our arrival in Haiti as well as during the first day. I will continue to update you on our trip, so check back over the next week to get more information.

I will leave you with this: Jean Claude Duvalier was quoted saying, "It is the destiny of the people of Haiti to suffer." Jean Claude Duvalier, or Bebe Doc (Baby Doc), was the president of Haiti in the 70's and 80's. As you will see over my next few quotes, I believe this is far from the truth. I believe more along the lines of Pope John Paul II visit to Haiti when he said, "Something must change here." I believe things are changing. Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti and for their hearts to change and to be softened to hear the voice of God.