Chill-dren: Calming Strategies For Your Child At Home

Picture this: You’ve had a long day at work, reprimanded by your boss and had a disagreement with that one co-worker who always gets under your skin. All you can think of is how much you want to get home! You already have in mind exactly what will help you let the stress of the day go.

Children and Stress

Although our children do not have bosses or coworkers, they do experience daily stress and share your feelings of wanting time to relax. The only thing is, they often do not know exactly what will help them de-stress and calm down in the moment. You can help your child by having a conversation about quiet activities they enjoy and items or experiences that make them feel better when they are upset. Discussing and practicing their calming strategies while they are feeling happy and relaxed will be important so your child knows how to use them during frustrating moments. Below are ideas to get you and your child started with their own relaxation routine.

Calming Ideas for Children

  1. Calm Down Corner
  • Different from a time-out spot, the calm down corner is a place your child can go when they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. It can be any spot around the house that they always have access to and can leave set up. Encourage your child to put blankets, pillows, and anything comfortable to cuddle with. Let them know that this is their special spot they can come to whenever they need a break.
  1. Deep Breaths
  • Deep breaths are a great tool for calming because once your child masters them at home, they can use them anywhere! Together with your child, practice taking three to five slow, controlled breaths. You can prompt your child to pretend their body is balloon and to watch their midsection fill up while they inhale, and see it deflate while they exhale. Modeling with your own body is a great way to show them exactly how their air should move and sound when they breathe.
  1. Yoga
  1. Calm down kit
  • The calm down kit is a bucket or bin full of items and pictures that is easily accessible to your child when they are feeling upset. It might include crayons and paper, something to squeeze, play-doh, snacks, bubbles, stickers, a book, and/or a feelings chart. You can also fill it with pictures of any of the ideas above!

What else can I do?

If your child is demonstrating continued difficulty calming themselves at home, consider contacting our office, as our social workers can provide your family with helpful tools and supports to help your child move from angry, sad, and/or scared back to the loving, happy child you know them to be.

Questions or concerns?

If you have questions or concerns about your child please contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439.

Amanda Deligiannis, MSW, LSW
Licensed Social Worker
Photo Credit: Photo by Anissa Thompson from FreeImages

Increasing Participation in Daily Routines

Establishing routines in your child’s life are crucial in that they help to create expectations and predictability. However, certain routines can often be difficult to follow when considering a parent’s work schedule and child’s behavior at particular times of the day. Children often feel as though they experience a loss of control when being asked to constantly “do this and that.” Parents-don’t panic! Try implementing these small tricks at home and school, which have been shown to increase your child’s participation and motivation to engage in routines!

How can routines help my child?

Routines are created to help your child understand what he/she should be expected to do throughout the day. Routines are important in a variety of settings, including the home and school. It is the parents’ and teachers’ duties to enforce these routines on a daily basis, which can include specific activities as well as consistent responses that reinforce participation. For example, if a child is expected to sit for circle time and he/she is having difficulties, it is crucial that the teacher responds in a consistent way in order for the child to understand that circle time is the next step and the child is expected to participate.

What if my child has difficulties following routines?

If your child is having difficulties following specific routines at home or school, creating a visual schedule of the specific steps in that routine can help to increase your child’s motivation and control of the situation. For example, if your child demonstrates resistance towards the morning routine, follow these simple steps to create a visual schedule:

  1. Take pictures of your child engaging in each step of the routine (e.g. waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, etc.)
  2. Place the pictures vertically on paper, numbering each step to help the child understand what needs to be done first/last.
  3. Allow the child to mark each step once completed. Ask your child how he/she wants to mark the steps (e.g. putting a sticker next to the completed step). Laminating the schedule is a fun way in which your child can “X” off the steps and then erase for the next day.
  4. Use this schedule every day for at least two weeks, which will allow for sufficient time to understand whether it is making an impact or not. It is important that all caregivers use the chart with your child in order to build consistency. 

How do these visual schedules actually help?

Visual schedules serve many purposes for children and caregivers. First, the pictures on the schedules allow children to see themselves in action, which adds an extra fun factor. Secondly, the schedule allows children to have increased control, in that they are able to mark off each completed step. Lastly, the schedule serves as reminders to the caregivers as to what the child has done and what he/she needs to further complete. It is also helpful for caregivers to add in an incentive if the child is able to complete all steps included in a routine (e.g. giving your child extra play time before leaving for school).

Questions or concerns?

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s routines, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439.

Brittany Hill, MS, MSW, LCSW, DT
Assistant Director of Social Work Services
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Photo Credit: Openclipart-Vectors via Pixabay

Let’s Talk About Feelings!

As children grow and learn to navigate their worlds, their experiences will be coupled with a variety of feelings. When children are unable to express themselves, it may result in increased frustration and aggressive behaviors. Talking about feelings can be difficult for children, as for many adults, and it is our jobs as caregivers to help facilitate children’s process of expression.

Which feelings should I focus on with my child?

For either younger children who do not have the language to label their feelings or older children who do not understand their feelings, it is helpful to focus on the common emotions of happy, sad, mad, and scared. These four feelings are considered to be baseline and can be used in helping your child better describe and understand their specific experiences.

How can I practice these with my child?

In order to increase your child’s understanding of these feelings, it would be beneficial to create a feelings chart. This can be a fun art project that you do with your child! First, take pictures of your child making a happy, sad, mad, and scared face. If your child is having trouble making these faces, bring out a mirror and practice doing them together. Then, put the four pictures onto a paper and label the feelings underneath each picture. Keep the chart in sight throughout the day, such as posting it on the refrigerator or cabinet. Practice using the chart by asking your child how he/she feels throughout the day. If your child is unable to voice the feeling, have him/her point to the picture. It is important that caregivers acknowledge and praise the child for his/her efforts, such as responding, “You are telling me that you are mad. Thank you for telling me.” Caregivers are also encouraged to remind the child that feeling sad, mad, and scared is not wrong so your child feels comfortable continuing to accurately express himself/herself. With continued practice with the chart, your child will begin to move towards increased self-expression.

Can this be helpful at school too?

This feeling chart can be used in any setting! It is recommended that the child use this chart in the environment that poses the most difficulties. For example, if your child is having difficulties with feeling expression while interacting with his/her classroom peers, the teacher can use the chart to help your child better communicate (via words or pointing) feelings. Increased expression of emotions can also result in more appropriate social behaviors, as your child will have more confidence using his/her words.

Questions or concerns?

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s emotional recognition and identification, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439. Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Brittany Hill, MS, MSW, LCSW, DT
Developmental Therapist
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Photo Credit: https://kids.lovetoknow.com/feelings-chart-children

Social Work: Destigmatized and Unfiltered

When you first hear that a social worker is going to be making weekly home visits, what is the first thing that comes to mind? DCFS? Domestic violence? Child abuse? There are many misconceptions about what social work actuallyisand what social workers actually do.This blog will help provide some information to understand the differences between what social work is and how it can help.

What is social work?

The term social work can be a very broad and general term, so what do social worker’s actually do? They help people in need. Social workers work in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. As a pediatric therapist, sessions can occur in any and all types of environments that are best suited to address your child’s goals of the session.

Early Intervention:

Most Early Intervention social work sessions occur in the home and a social worker will work collaboratively with the family to target specific goals for the sessions. A social worker can facilitate and locate resources as needed within the community, such as food pantries and daycares. Sessions can focus on specific challenging behaviors/daily routines that your child may be struggling with. A social worker will provide parent education and implement strategies when working with challenging behaviors. Counseling services are frequently provided to all families and referrals are made as needed.

Private Therapy:

Social workers directly work with your child and family to focus on any area that your child is experiencing difficulty with i.e., difficulty in school, aggressive behaviors, emotional regulation, and mental health concerns. Social workers also provide counseling services to address topics of grief and loss, difficulty with family transitions, and facing peer pressure. Families are active participants in the child’s therapy through interventions and strategies that are learned and implemented at home.

How can social work help my child?

Social work services help children and families by providing education and interventions specific to each family. Working with a social worker can help create essential age-appropriate disciplinary techniques and establish boundaries within the home. Increasing your child’s social-emotional and regulation skills will help children communicate and become cognizant of their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Counseling services create a safe environment for your child to express their feelings while understanding how to self-regulate through everyday stressors.

Questions or concerns?

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s social emotional development, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439.

Kelly Scafidi, MSW, LCSW, DT
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Developmental Therapist

Photo Credit:Andrew Branch via StockSnap.io