Hello & Welcome

A Family Affair: Information for Parents, Teens, & Children (Grandparents, too).
Ideas on how to develop a happier, healthier home.

Everyone is running every which way, working hard and very busy, all the while our relationships are slipping away. Learn to enjoy the kids, the family, your own life again. Happiness is at our hands we just need to make a few adjustments on how we do things.
Everyone can change a little! And a little change makes all the difference. The ideas in this blog are colored by tons of professional experience, decades of studying human behavior and human nature, and the continual use of commonsense.

As the site builds and you find it interesting please share it with others. Thank you, Kathy.

Posted in Hello & Welcome | Leave a comment

Helping Children and Teens After a Crisis

When disaster strikes we’re all effected. The Gulf and East Coast are stricken by hurricanes, the Midwest has their tornadoes, and the West Coast has fires and floods. The media makes sure we know about all of it, all the time. Also important are the individual crises a family can experience, e.g., a house fire, sudden loss, exposure to violence. These all create stress, and sometimes trauma. How can we help children and teens when they are directly effected by the crisis, or when they’re watching it on the TV, and hearing people talking about the disaster?Create and maintain as much predictability as possible. How much and what type will depend on how much trauma was created by the event, or how fearful a child becomes knowing about the disasters that occur. Do eliminate the constant replay of disasters by the media.

Take the scenario of having to live in a shelter, or with other family for a week. It is possible to create structure by making a little schedule (e.g., when you take a walk, when you play cards, naps). Daily structure, noting schedules, and lists, help the brain reorganize after a crises, and the predictability helps provide a sense of safety. These help mitigate the effects of trauma to the brain, and increase coping skills. Most adults do this naturally through mental or written lists, and they tend to talk about work and home life so, there again, they’re talking about what is happening and what comes next.

After a crisis adults take stock of what they have, what they need, and what they need to do, but we tend to not to help kids do the same. Common misconceptions about dealing with children after a crisis are: it’s bad to have them talk about it; they don’t have the same understand of loss of things (e.g., What do they really care about a dresser, except their things in it?); they “know” everything is “safe” once the crises is over because we tell them so; that if they knew their own schedule before they will after the crisis; and that they are resilient and won’t be effected as much as adults.

On the contrary, children and teens, need to talk about what happened, what they felt and what they think. Some don’t need to say much more then a few words, while others need to do a thorough review of what happened. They need help sorting out their feelings, and understand the reality of things (“No, we’re not going to float away, lets look at the house foundation.”). If talking about a crisis, however, triggers a traumatic reaction, get professional help. A traumatic response to recalling an experience may include hyper ventilating, screaming, tantrums, refusal to sleep in own bed, has to have the light on (many months after the crisis), chronic nightmares, excessive clinginess (many months after), bed wetting, a sudden drop in grades, or withdrawal or new shyness, to name a few. For more information on symptoms of trauma visit Recognizing Symptoms of Child Trauma.

Set schedules for things you normally do not. For example, posting a weekly schedule of activities and appointments, or one about school projects. Posting a weekly menu can give a sense of structure. Then, periodically review the schedule and chat about it for a second. This also provides another good moment to connect with the child.

If possessions were lost, talk to the child and help them take stock of what is missing. If everything is lost, talking about the heartfelt possessions, and other items, is very important. One might say to their child, “The stuffed animals (names some) were such good friends, we’ll miss them, they were….)”; and to their teen, “All that hard work you put into your play list, that’s as much a loss as your ipod, huh?).  We all know that material things are not as important as people and pets, but they do matter. When we lose something of value to us, we should acknowledge the loss. There seems to be some confusion that if we feel bad over losing possessions we’re materialistic, or we need to “get over it”. That is hard for children since they’re new to crises and disasters, trauma, and loss. They don’t yet know things will get better.

If there is trauma, or a lot of stress, over a situation, then review the days activities in the morning. For example, for young children you might say “OK, we’re going to finish breakfast, I’ll drive you to school, what classes do you have today?, dad will pick you up at what time?”. Then maybe talk about a good class for a minute. At night, especially if there is some fear about going to sleep, you might say something like, “You’re going to sleep, then wake up, we’ll have breakfast, and so forth.).

Bad things happen in life. We can not control natural disasters, or avoid all personal crises, but we can have an impact on how these things effect children. We can’t promise our children we’ll never let anything happen to them. We can promise we will care for them, protect them, and teach them, the best we can. And when a crises dose happen we can be armed with information, know what to expect, teach them coping skills, and help them feel safe again.

Copyright © R.E.A.C.H. Counseling 2000, All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Articles on Misc. Topics | Leave a comment

The infrastructure of a household, is the foundation.

Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.1 Households are no different, other then the scale of operations are smaller. This category will discuss ways to identify the current infrastructure of household and possible improvements.

The infrastructure of a business, city, state and country is the foundation from which all else is built. Those entities couldn’t exist without the infrastructure, and how well those entities function is directly related to the effectiveness of that infrastructure. Households have an infrastructure, too, we just don’t look at them like a business. But we should. Just like a business or a city, building a functioning household requires some forethought, planning, developing, and sound infrastructure. The infrastructure of a city or business includes things like roads, electricity, water, gas, sewer, Police and Fire departments, public transportation, telecommunication, etc. The ‘hard scape’ of the entity. When these things are operating correctly then services, businesses, and culture can be developed. The infrastructure has an impact on how the rest of the city forms and continues operating. For example, if the roads are run down, and health are os not available, people stop taking care of their own places and themselves, and consequently no businesses open in those areas. How people keep an environment, from a park, a neighborhood, a commercial building, and even a home will effect how the people living and working in these places feel about themselves and their situation, thereby effecting how much effort they place into those environments. Households are no different, other then the scale of operations are smaller. Because of that, most people don’t think they need to formally identify how things should function. This often backfires when there is a family stressor, life stress, or sometimes when the kids become teenagers. It is the infrastructure that provides the foundation for the Community Structure. When the Community Structure is challenged the infrastructure can help hold things together. E.g., predicability is very important to a young child’s psycho-emotional stability (everyone’s, really). If there is a divorce or death in a family, or there is a community crises (911, local teenage suicide, a plant closing and thousands lose jobs), having a predictable environment (e.g., we always had dinner at 6:00 and still do during the crises) sets the stage for how we get through the crisis. That foundation also sets the stage for how successful a family is toward meeting its goals. How is the place you live? Are things working well, is there organization or is it chaos? Is the yard in order (if you have one)? Is the car working or is there easy public transportation? Are people late for school, work, appointments because of problems with transportation? Is there food, and other supplies, and are they accessible? Are people getting the health care needed? Is there some kind of revenue? Ideas on how to identify, chart, and improve the infrastructure of a household coming soon.

Posted in The Infrastructure of a Household | Leave a comment