Archive of ‘Mental Health’ category

Routine Charts for Getting Out the Door on Time

It’s back to school time! Soon families will be adjusting to a different schedule, and mornings can feel early, short, and frustrating to get everyone and all of their things packed up and out the door. Back to school can also serve as an excellent opportunity to revisit or create a morning routine that works. To help ease the transition from summer to school, your family can use a routine chart to support and guide the morning. Routine charts are meant to be collaborative and encourage children to take responsibility for their things and time. Here are tips for creating a routine that helps get everyone out the door and on time!

“The more children do for themselves, the more capable and encouraged they feel.” (Nelsen)

Nelsen, J. (1987). Positive discipline. 1st Ballantine Books ed. New York: Ballantine Books.

Collaborate!

Create a routine chart with your child. The goal is to help the child feel involved and part of the routine. When children are involved in the process, this helps them feel a sense of pride and ownership. Collaborating and getting their help is a great way to teach and build time management and life management skills. This can be something added to the Family Meeting agenda!

Brainstorm!

Working together, brainstorm all the steps and tasks needed for a successful morning. We want children to feel encouraged, so all ideas are welcome! Ask them to tell a story about their morning, share tasks they can do, and what they need your help with. This is the time to look at all of the parts of the morning and then decide what key things are needed each day and in which order.

Make it Creative!

To help children feel ownership in the routine, ask them to help decorate, write, and color the chart. You can use stickers, pictures of them doing each task, or whatever will help the child recognize key steps and see their contribution to the list. This is meant to be their work! Then, find a spot in the household where everyone can see it on display.

Take Time for Teaching.

It is important that every child feels informed and capable of how to move through each step of the routine. Spend the first week doing the routine together so that you can teach the skills. This can help the child feel like the routine is a team effort and help start the school year positively.

Let the Chart do the Work.

Now that the tasks are outlined, the chart is made, and the family has discussed each element, it’s time for the chart to “be the boss.” This helps take the parental “nagging” out of the situation and gives a clear visual and reminder for what is next. It is normal to experience resistance and for kids to test boundaries to see if you really plan on sticking to this new plan. When you hear pushback, gently remind the child of the routine in a Kind and Firm way, “I know you are tired, AND I appreciate your help packing up your backpack.” Remember to encourage, encourage, encourage! Take time to acknowledge their cooperation and completion of tasks.

Written By: Janet Mize, LMSW Supervised by Kirby Sandlin Schroeder LPC-S LMFT-S

Back-to-School at Austin Family Counseling

Reframing Common Conversations

Woohoo it is time to go back to school! I am sure that many of you parents, guardians, and loved ones of school-aged children are experiencing a complex mix of emotions as the summer wraps up. It is perfectly natural to experience some anxiety regarding issues such as childcare, scheduling, and the overall transition; however, it will be a great benefit both to you AND the children if topics related to school are discussed in a positive manner. I would like to share my tips for reframing/rephrasing these conversations in order to decrease anxiety and motivate everyone to put their best foot forward this school year.

“I am nervous about making new friends.”

Instead try- “Wow I am so excited for you to make even more friends this year! How wonderful it is to have the opportunity to meet new people while still treasuring the memories you have with your current group.” This reframe using positive psychology will encourage socializing without focusing on the possible grief of losing friends. Another tip would be to ask your child to host a playdate at your home with someone new!

“You have to make your own lunch now because you are too old for me to do it.”

Instead try- “I am so proud of your growth and maturity that I am trusting you to make your own lunches now. Ask me if you need some help, but I am confident you will do great.” Some kids are not quite ready to grow up and accept new responsibilities, although it is often necessary, so this reframe emphasizes their strengths. If you let them know you believe in them, then they are more likely to believe in themselves.

“You will need to work extra hard this year because I do not want to see your grades fall behind.”

Instead try- “If the schoolwork seems more challenging this year, remember that most of the other kids probably feel the same way. Do not be afraid to ask your teachers and friends for help because working together is the best way to succeed.” We all want good grades and success for our children, but sometimes the pressure of new teachers, harder courses, and change overall can be too much for an anxious student to absorb. This reframe still promotes hard work in the classroom, but also reminds the child that they are never alone in their worries.

“I cannot deal with all of this; school, you kids, work, and keeping it all together”

I want to preface this reframe by validating that parenting is the hardest job on earth, point blank. Sometimes we say things that are maybe too adult for them to hear and we wish we could take them back, or we get caught up in the moment of our own distress. It is healthy to be honest with your children when you are struggling because then they learn that all humans go through hard times; however, it is important to phrase your statements in a way that the kids will not take personally and internalize as being their fault. Try this- “I am very overwhelmed right now. I will be okay, and do not need you to worry about me. However, I might need a little extra help from you until I feel better. Thank you for being such a good listener.”

If you made it this far, I hope you have a better idea of how to broach stressful topics with your little ones. Nobody is perfect, so please be kind and patient with yourselves if these conversations do not come naturally- all good things take practice! As long as you are willing to learn, then your children will have the motivation to learn from you and grow this upcoming school year. Good luck and have fun 🙂

Written By: Jennifer Sacco, LMSW Supervised by Doran Oatman, LCSW

What is Self-Care? What do Therapists do for Self-Care?

I’ve been hearing a lot recently about “self-care,” and that we should all be “practicing more self-care.” But what if you don’t even know what “self-care” means? What if you keep hearing about “self-care” and all that comes to mind is bubble baths and retail therapy? What if you know what self care is supposed to be, but you have trouble actually figuring it out for yourself? 

First, I’ll give you some ideas of what self-care is vs what it isn’t. Second, I’ve decided to have some fun and ask the therapists at Austin Family Counseling what THEY do for self-care, and it may help give some insight into what self-care can look like for you!

First, what Self-Care ISN’T:

  • Indulging in or bingeing your favorite things every now and then just to check off the “self-care” box
  • An instant fix for all of your problems
  • The same for everyone

Now, what Self-Care IS:

  • An individual way for you to fill your needs that haven’t been met
  • It can be quite challenging
  • Really, really different from person to person, or even for the same person at various points in time
  • Read Julie’s 2019 blog about the 5 categories of self-care: https://austinfamilycounseling.com/5-categories-of-selfcare/

Second… What Do Austin Family Counseling Therapists Do for Self-Care?

I asked AFC therapists what they do for self-care. Here are some of their responses…

Kaity (Blog Author) said “I typically stream shows and movies, eat chocolate, play video games, and go on nature walks for my self-care. I’m also adamant about getting as close to eight hours of sleep per night as I can and being mindful of my hydration.”

Lora said “Every two weeks I go in for a massage and dry sauna treatment, and during really tender seasons in my life, I go weekly! I use it as time to meditate, rest, relax, and replenish.”

Mike said “I wake up early and go for a walk (when it’s not so hot outside). I try to make sure I take breaks (e.g., I don’t walk on the weekends). I am kind to myself when I don’t eat as healthy as I’d like. I say, ‘you’ve been working really hard to eat healthy, and you don’t need to be perfect at this or anything.’ I listen to a meditation before (or as) I go to sleep. I make sure I read books that are just for fun.”

Emily said “I make an effort to incorporate meditation and yoga, even if it is only 5 or 10 minutes, as a part of my daily routine knowing that it helps keep me grounded and connected.”

Catherine M. said “I like to disconnect myself from the internet and connect with nature by taking walks.  I engage myself in mindful playing with my son, and I take Epsom Salt baths to help me relax and detox.”

Sumaya said “Hot showers or bubble baths with candles lit; surrounding myself with my family and friends including food and boardgames; being outside with nature in my hammock, near or in water, and taking an evening walk.”

Janet said “For self-care, I like to go on walks and listen to a podcast. This gives me time outside, doing something physical and listening to something I enjoy. I also look forward to easy mornings on weekends with my family; we all enjoy those moments of a slower pace.”

Sara said “I love taking hot showers, snuggling my dogs, weightlifting at the gym, sleeping in when I’m feeling worn down, and having fun with my friends and fiancé on the weekends. I also love getting my nails done every 2-3 weeks! It’s a fun creative outlet for me – I love all things glam and it taps into that. It’s also a great reason for me to sit for an hour with no phone, no conversation, and no expectations of productivity.”

Final Impressions

As you can see, our therapists have a wide range of activities they do to help with their self-care. Some of their self-care activities are more outdoor- or indoor-oriented, some are long, some are short, some are very individual, some involve socializing with other people, but they are all helpful to us in our own unique ways. 

If you are interested in finding ways to increase your own self-care, talk to your therapist or reach out to get on our schedule at [email protected] | 512-298-3381.


1 2 3 4 34